THE clock is ticking painfully near towards the 2010 May elections.

The Commission on Elections has offhandedly admitted it can only automate 50 percent of the total voting areas in the country.

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Everything seems to be delayed from the targeted date, from the printing of ballots to the training of teachers who will man the automated machines.

On Monday, Commission on Elections chair Jose Melo confessed of being worried on the upcoming use of the 82,200 precinct count optical scan (PCOS) machines. The winning supplier last week committed to complete the delivery of the remaining 75,000 PCOS machines one week before the February deadline of the commission. So far, there are 7,200 machines that were delivered last week. Now that is not even 10 percent of the total number.

Is it plain overconfidence on the part of Melo when he gave a rating of 8 from a scale of 1 to 10 on the chances of having automated elections?

And the vague "hitches here and there" what is the country to expect but another botched attempt to sail into computerization?

As in the past, delays in government projects abound due to bureaucratic red tape and this seeming inability to take a decisive stand on the part of project proponents.

How easy would it be if one of them just says: The Buck Stops Here. Or to be more hip, take Nike's slogan and say: Just Do It.

Aside from the machines, Comelec's woes do not seem to end as a teacher's group lambasted the Comelec for the "slow-paced" voters' information campaign.

Benjo Basas, national president of the 30,000-strong Teachers Dignity Coalition (TDC) said while Comelec officials have repeatedly stated their readiness for the automated election in May, the whole system is not prepared as it needs to train some 300,000 personnel.

Among the 500,000 teachers nationwide, the Comelec said that it only needs 300,000 or even less to sit as Board of Election Inspectors (BEI).

This early, we are seeing a scenario of what comes after the May automated elections: chaos.

Clearly, Comelec needs to get its act together. Contingency measures are in order as the entire country exercises its right to suffrage, automated or manual.