THE Commission on Elections (Comelec) preparations for the automated election system is now in full gear after the filing of certificates of candidacy (COCs) for 2010 elections ended a week ago.

Personnel of the Comelec office in Northern Mindanao are starting to conduct information drive in various barangays in the region to educate voters and acquaint them in the use of the automated poll machines, said Comelec Director Renato Magbutay.

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Comelec registrars' personnel, Director Magbutay said, have now started conducting review and seminars in the field regarding the automated poll to intensify voters’ familiarization with the 2010 elections process.

He said the new system is fairly easy to learn, but the poll body needs to be assured that the voting know-how is passed down to the barangay level.

In Cagayan de Oro, the City Comelec said it will conduct a demonstration on precinct count optical scan (PCOS) in the upland Barangays Tumpagon and Pigsag-an this Sunday.

City Comelec Officer Gina Zayas-Sabio said they are also tapping the tri-media for massive information drive on poll automation.

Sabio said their team would demonstrate how the PCOS machines work, and exhorted barangay officials to cooperate to make the demos successful.

PCOS is an optical ballot scanner where optical scan paper ballots marked by the voter's hand are inserted to be counted.

It is equipped with a 12-hour back up power in case of brownouts but for some unpredictable circumstances that may prevent the use of PCOS all voting stations may shift on manual counting.

Meanwhile, Magbutay said the campaign period for the May 10, 2010 elections will start on February 9, 2010 for national election candidates and on March 26, 2010 for local candidates.

The campaign period for both local and national levels will end on May 8. (ALR)