PROVINCIAL Election Supervisor Lionel Marco Castillano said the public still needs to know more about the automated polls.

Castillano apprised the Cebu

Provincial Board (PB), in a session yesterday, on Capitol’s preparedness for the first automated elections.

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“The Comelec (Commission on Elections) has not gone full blast on voter’s education. That’s the challenge,” Castillano told members of the PB yesterday who invited him and Cebu Provincial Police Office Director Erson Digal for election-related concerns.

All 54 election officers from the entire province also met yesterday afternoon at the new Capitol session hall to talk about the field testing conducted last Jan. 27 and the mock elections last Feb. 6.

Smartmatic-TIM, during the meeting, suggested that a matrix be made on the areas where there are no telecommunication signals.

Poor signal

A Broadband Global Area Network (BGAN), which transmits election results through satellite, will be assigned to the cluster.

Also noted during the mock elections was the problem in transmission where the signal is poor, like what happened in Barangay Mabini, Cebu City.

Castillano said they had to use the BGAN to be able to transmit the results.

For areas without signal, a BGAN will be allocated. But for those with poor signal, Castillano said that a BGAN could be made available but it will be assigned to a cluster.

Cellular phones and digital cameras have also affected the speed of transmission.

The election supervisor also told the PB that a school principal suggested after the mock polls that a holding area for voters be made available.

Castillano said in a meeting with Comelec national heads that it was decided that this concern should be addressed by the board of election inspectors (BEIs).

“The BEIs know best in terms of crowd control and management,” Castillano said.

Castillano also urged the Cebu-Citizens’ Involvement and Maturation in People’s Empowerment and Liberation (C-Cimpel) to conduct its own voter’s education to help the commission.

If there will be a holding area in a precinct, Castillano asked that C-Cimpel volunteers will man it rather than individuals belonging to political parties.

PB Member Victor Maambong asked who would be accountable if there is a glitch in the poll automation.

Castillano said Comelec will be accountable for any problem. If hacking occurs, there is only a window of five minutes where the system can be hacked, he said.

The system can also be double checked.

“The beauty of the system is that you can always check because of the ballots. We can always go back to the ballots,” Castillano told the PB.

Maambong said the ballots are unreliable, citing the case in the fourth district after the House of Representatives Electoral Tribunal declared Rep. Benhur Salimbangon a winner in the 2007 polls by 453 votes while the Supreme Court ruled that Celestino Martinez III won by close to 5,000 votes.

PB Member Julian Daan asked when the results of the provincial elections will be known. Castillano said the results may be known on the same day.

“Does this really mean there will be no cheating?” Daan asked in Bisaya.

“Cheating will always be there but in terms of counting and canvassing, there will be none,” Castillano said. (JGA)