The first automated election in the Philippines is taking place on May 10 amid fears of election failure due to the unexpected malfunction of vote-counting machines. The errors were traced to flawed memory cards and replaced by the supplier Thursday.
Vote-counting machines with flawed memory cards supplied by a Venezuelan-led consortium to be used on the Philippine's first automated elections work accurately on the second mock-up polls conducted in pilot areas around the country.
The precinct optical count scan (PCOS) machines supplied by Smartmatic, a Venezuelan-led consortium, were tested Monday on several pilot areas in the country, failed to give an accurate count of the votes cast for various candidates.
It was discovered by Smartmatic technical people that the machines had flawed memory cards which caused them to malfunction. The technical glitches caused panic among election officials and executives of Smartmatic as the constitution-mandated election day draws near.
Elections officials and Venezuela-based Smartmatic, the private consortium that won a 7.2 billion peso ($160 million) contract to supply the counting machines, said they were dealing with the logistical nightmare amid a massive effort to correct the defects in the memory cards and attach them back to the machines.
They assured Filipinos that Monday's elections will proceed as scheduled, dispelling rumors, which spread through cell phone text messages, that the polls will be postponed for at least two weeks.
Three pilot cities in Metro Manila participated in another mock up election to test the PCOS machine with the newly replaced memory card. The machine worked accurately using the new memory card.
Commission on Elections (Comelec) Chairman Jose Melo expressed satisfaction on the positive development. "It appears that our prayers are being answered," he said in a news conference.
Earlier Smartmatic promised the Comelec it can fix the problem, test the new memory cards and deliver the machines all over the country in time for the May 10 election.
The technical glitch in the country's first electronic election prompted some politicians and cause-oriented groups to call for the postponement of the May 10 elections. Legal experts said such a move by the Comelec is unconstitutional and could create more problems for the election body.
In the meantime, the poll body is working round the clock to deliver the replacement memory cards for the PCOS with four days left before election day.