Rappler – Smartmatic still wants to be part of Philippine elections

By Ralf Rivas | Rappler

MANILA, Philippines – Technology company Smartmatic remains optimistic that it will still be the government’s pick to be the provider of vote-counting machines (VCMs) for succeeding elections, despite President Rodrigo Duterte’s view that the Commission on Elections (Comelec) must end ties with them.

Machines that reject ballots, transmission delays, and over-voting which eventually led to votes not being counted were just some of the problems encountered during the May 2019 elections.

The Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT) and the Comelec hosted a technology fair on Monday, July 15, to scout for possible alternatives to Smartmatic’s system.

Despite the President’s criticism, Smartmatic showed up and presented hardware such as a direct recording electronic voting machine or touchscreen.

Smartmatic representatives said the touchscreen would need the voter’s fingerprint for it to function. It will also prompt the voter that he or she over-voted.

Once the voter is content with his or her decision, the machine would then print a receipt which can be dropped inside a box in case a manual recount is needed.

The Comelec already thought of deploying touchscreens back in 2016, but the poll body found that the costs outweigh the benefits. (READ: Comelec scraps use of touchscreen voting in 2016)

Smartmatic also told reporters that the machines which were used in the previous elections can be modified to reject or accept ballots which have over-voting.

The Smartmatic official attending to the company’s booth at the fair said that the Comelec may give a voter another ballot in cases of over-voting, but the poll body rejected the idea.

“The ballot and voter is strictly one is to one,” Comelec Chairman Sheriff Abas said.

Meanwhile, DICT Undersecretary Eliseo Rio Jr said Smartmatic will have to present new ways if it wishes to be reconsidered for the next elections.

“They have to compete now…. If they present the same thing, matatalo sila (they will lose),” Rio said.

The DICT previously presented a system which still uses Smartmatic’s VCMs, but involves new ballots and a checking system deemed to be more transparent. – Rappler.com

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