The Philippine Star - Comelec: VCMs to be used again in 2022 polls

31 October 2020

By Sheila Crisostomo | The Philippine Star

MANILA, Philippines — For the third time, the country will use vote counting machines (VCMs) in the May 2022 national and local polls, an official of the Commission on Elections (Comelec) said on Thursday.

Facing “The Chiefs” on Cignal TV’s OneNews, Comelec spokesman James Jimenez said the VCMs used in the 2016 and 2019 polls will see action again in the 2022 general elections.

“Definitely, now it’s for sure that we are going to use the old machines. We’re gonna use the machines that we used in 2016 and re-used in 2019,” he said. Jimenez assured the public the machines will be “refurbished.”

“Some parts will be replaced with new parts but on the whole it will be older machines,” he added.

He said the Comelec is “pretty confident that the machines will stand up.” However, their “little concern is that it will be a flash point later on when things go wrong” and people would say it is because the machines are not new.

Jimenez added there should be no issue on the VCMs’ credibility but as what happened in the 2019 polls, there were people who felt the machines were not trustworthy despite having high credibility rating.

Comelec currently has some 97,000 units of VCM. This is not enough considering that it was estimated that some 115,000 polling precincts would have to be put up for the 2022 elections.

The poll body is looking at leasing more of the same machines for the coming polls.

Jimenez also said the Comelec is looking at various options for election day amid the threats posed by COVID-19.

These options include having a two-day voting period, more polling precincts and longer voting hours.

He expressed hope that they can make a decision within the year because “a lot (of preparations) will be dependent on such decision.”

“All solutions are promising, all leads to the same conclusion – fewer people in polling precincts, places. But all of them have accompanying logistical problems such as longer hours for instance,” Jimenez added.