Philippine News Agency : Completion of vote counting machines repair seen by November

News & Interviews
14 September 2021

By Ferdinand Patinio | Philippine News Agency

MANILA – The Commission on Elections (Comelec) is looking to finish refurbishing the over 97,700 vote counting machines (VCMs) in November that will be used in next year's elections.

In an interview after a walkthrough at the poll body warehouse in Sta. Rosa, Laguna on Tuesday where the machines are being refurbished, Commissioner Marlon Casquejo reported that Smartmatic, the service provider of the machines, won the bidding for the refurbishment contract worth PHP600 million.

“There was a bidding for refurbishment, the winner, with the lowest calculated responsive bid, was Smartmatic. In the refurbishment process, they will refurbish with Comelec in control. There is a representative per station conducting hardware acceptance tests. Until November, the refurbishment of 97,700 plus machines should be done,” he added.

Out of this number of machines, Casquejo said 5,000 are currently undergoing "thorough fixing".

“PHP600 million for refurbishment or PHP7,000 per machine. The total cost of new machines is PHP12 billion. But we got less than that. We just refurbished it. Our machine will be good as new,” he added.

Casquejo also expressed hope that next year’s polls will be the last time these VCMs will be used in national elections since the machines are already old.

“I hope this is the last because it is a nine-year-old machine in 2022, although we refurbished it. Maybe after 2022, we will have new technology for elections, maybe there will be internet voting or DRE (direct-recording electronic) voting system. Let's see,” he said.

He said these machines can still be used in special elections or plebiscites.

"We can automate smaller elections in cities or municipalities because we own this system. But by 2025 elections, hopefully, we will have a new machine because this machine is really 12 years old now,” Casquejo added.

The VCMs were last used in the May 2019 midterm polls.

The country started using an automated election system nationwide during the May 2010 national and local polls. (PNA)