Comelec encounters minor glitches in “mock ballot transmission” test

By on April 24, 2016

A woman casts her votes during the Voter Education for the students of Pangasinan State University. (Photo from Comelec's official Twitter account)
A woman casts her votes during the Voter Education for the students of Pangasinan State University. (Photo from Comelec’s official Twitter account)

STA. ROSA CITY, Laguna – The Commission on Elections (Comelec) encountered minor glitches when the poll body conducted on Saturday the “mock ballot transmission” test at its secured warehouse that served as “mock national board of canvassers’ headquarters” along Kilometer 43 in Sta. Rosa City.

Comelec Chairperson Andres Bautista said the transmission test was a success despite the minimal glitches, citing the Digos voting precinct in Davao del Sur which failed to transmit because there was no ballot.

Bautista said the “mock ballots” that were supposedly meant for the area were inadvertently delivered to Pateros in Metro Manila.

He also directed the poll body to make the assessment from the test run which suffered delay in the ballot transmission due to signal interruptions or intermittent cellular signal in the mock voting centers.

About 1,000 mock ballots were apportioned to each of the selected 21 voting precincts as test run sites spread through four regions across the country.

These included Manila (1st District), Quezon City (1st District), Taguig, Pateros in Metro Manila or the National Capital Region (NCR); Iriga City and Buhi, Camarines Sur in Region V or the Bicol Region; Cortez and Alburquerque, Bohol in Region VII or Central Visayas; and Digos and Bansalan, Davao del Sur in Region XI or Southeastern Mindanao.

During the dry-run, delays in the ballot transmission were detected in Taguig, Metro Manila; Iriga City in Camarines Sur in the Bicol Region and in Alburquerque, Bohol in Central Visayas.

COMELEC also invited the Parish Pastoral Council for Responsible Voting (PPCRV) National Chairperson former Ambassador Henrietta de Villa and lawyer Karen Gimeno, head of Voters Education of Smartmatic International and media representatives to the poll body’s transmission dry-run.

The test run employed two methods where one utilizes transmission using the USB through the three cellular phone network providers and the other via satellite device.

Participants who acted as “mock voters” and observers estimated some six hours for the operational test to complete the “mock election or casting of the ballot in the vote counting machine and the transmission” to check on the results from the selected voting centers in the four regions.

Due to signal problems, some SIM units were replaced with other cell networks with cellular signals in the area to transmit the results to the local board of canvassers in the town or city.

In Iriga City, CamSur, a “mock ballot” got stuck in the vote counting machine (VCM) during the transmittal test from the local voting precincts to the national board of canvassers.

Another reported glitch was a VCM which failed to print the voter’s receipt because the thermal paper got stuck in the compartment of the printing machine.

PPCRV Chairperson De Villa witnessed the sending process and remarked the expeditious digital transmission directly to the poll body’s canvassers’ board.

De Villa viewed the trial run “discrepancies or faults” as challenges to the COMELEC to address these immediately when such situation occurs.

She noted improvements from the previous national elections when the USBs containing the election results were sent via courier vehicles to the poll body when some PCOS machines failed to function.

Lawyer Karen Jimeno noted a high level of transparency during the test run because of the speedier and simultaneous digital transmission of the results.