Comelec starts final VCMs testing, sealing May 6

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MANILA — The Commission on Elections (Comelec) is set to start on Monday the final testing and sealing (FTS) of the 85,000 vote counting machines (VCMs) to be used in the May 13, 2019 mid-term polls.

Commissioner Luie Guia said the testing will be held early next week until May 12, to determine if the machines can correctly count.

“That’s what we’re gonna do between May 6 and May 12, for all the 85,000 machines,” he said.

Guia noted that the procedure will involve 10 voters who will vote at the polling center. After casting the votes, it will be counted manually and will be compared to the results produced by the machines.

“We are doing FTS on Monday. It is actually a procedure to test whether the machines can count correctly so what will happen then is there will be 10 actual voters who will be asked to vote in polling stations and these voters will accomplished actual or ballots that are no longer dummy ballots,” he said in a forum on Friday.

“These would be the same of the ballots that will be used for the elections and 10 of them will be fed by the voters into the machines. The voter receipt will come out... the ballots will be counted later on. The results of the manual count will then have to be compared with results produced by the machines,” Guia added.

Meanwhile, Comelec spokesperson James Jimenez said aside from testing the machines, the FTS procedure will also test the transmission system.

“The FTS is basically testing the machines. Ballots will be marked, the ballots will be fed, diagnostics will be run on the machines at ang transmission system to know if the transmission works in that area or if there are issues that need to be addressed,” he said in an interview Friday.

During the FTS, there will be an end-to-end test of the process --from the initialization of the machines to the voting, to the feeding of the accomplished ballots to the VCMs, and until the printing of election returns (ERs).

After the process, the Comelec will then seal and lock the VCMs and will not be opened again until the start of polls.

The Comelec has printed more than 1.1 million ballots for the FTS process.

The 85,000 VCMs in the same number of clustered precincts all over the country will be utilized in the upcoming polls.

Earlier, the Comelec reported that it has deployed all VCMs to regional and local hubs, which are strategically located for purposes of deploying them before the FTS.

Aside from the 85,000 VCMs, the Comelec have readied about 7,000 VCMs as contingency, which will be deployed to provincial election supervisor.

The poll body will be using again the VCMs that were first utilized in the 2016 elections. (PNA)