SO voters can familiarize themselves with the machines that will be used in the automated polls, Cebu City’s election officers urged voters and candidates to participate in the mock elections scheduled next month.

The Commission on Elections (Comelec) Cebu City offices will hold a mock election as part of their voter education campaign.

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Lawyer Edwin Cadungog, election officer for the south district, said it will be a chance for all candidates to see how the automated elections will be conducted, and how their watchers and election lawyers should function on Election Day.

Two Precinct Count Optical Scan (PCOS) machines will be assigned to Cebu City, which will be used during the mock election on Feb. 6 in Barangays Bulacao in the south district and Mabini in the north.

Lawyer Marchel Sarno said there are no guidelines yet on the conduct of the mock elections but they were told it will be a simulation of the actual election on May 10.

“It will be good if the administration and opposition candidates can participate so they can give us their comments and suggestions, if they are amenable to the set-up or they want something changed, so we can also make recommendations to Comelec Manila,” Sarno said.

He also encouraged the voters to participate and observe the automated elections, so they can try the machines before they go to the actual poll precincts.

Comelec has also scheduled next month the training of election officers in the cities and towns on the poll automation procedures.

After the election officers and Comelec staff are trained, Sarno said they will proceed with the training of the teachers who will compose the Board of Election Inspectors (BEIs) in March.

“The training of teachers was moved to March so it can be held closer to Election Day. It was suggested that we hold it as early as November last year, but we preferred to do the training at a later date so the teachers will not forget and won’t need to be retrained,” he said.

Since this is the first time the national elections will be automated, there is a growing concern on whether or not the elections will proceed smoothly, considering that voters are not familiar with the machines.

But Sarno said they will do their best to educate the voters by holding voter education activities in all the sitios in the city.