Migrante urges Comelec for a glitch-free automated poll

A FILIPINO migrants’ right group urged Sunday the Commission on Elections (Comelec) to ensure that the glitches in 2010 automated voting will not be repeated in the upcoming elections in May.

The poll body sets out to expand the use of the automated election system (AES) in the overseas absentee voting (OAV) during the elections.

According to Migrante-Middle East (M-ME), they have reason to doubt that the AES, once brought to the Middle East, would be seamless owing to the experience they saw in 2010 when the Precinct Count Optical Scan (PCOS) machines were used in Singapore and Hong Kong.

“We are raising our reservation on the proposal to include the five places here in the Middle East given the numerous glitches reported on the 2010 AES-OAV in Hong Kong and Singapore,” said M-ME Coordinator John Leonard Monterona.

“In principle, we are amenable… That is why we are asking Comelec to fix the glitches first,” he added.

The overseas Filipino worker (OFW) group noted that in the 2010 polls, ballots were accepted by the PCOS machine even if an ordinary ballpoint pen was used.

M-ME also recalled that some PCOS machines broke down due to humidity and caused delays as regular voting had to stop for more than two hours.

Earlier this month, the poll body disclosed that five more areas will be added to Singapore and Hong Kong as the sites AES will be introduced for the May elections.

These are in Middle East areas of Abu Dhabi, Dubai, Kuwait, Jeddah, and Riyadh.

Due to these problems, the OFW group is now asking the Comelec to consider involving their sector in preparing for the OAV later this year.

Among them, Monterona said, is their inclusion in the drafting of the general instructions, as well as allowing them to have their representatives in the election Board of Canvassers.

“There must be close coordination and participation of Filipino community leaders at every posts and witness the conduct of the OAV-AES to counting of votes to transmittal of the result,” he said. (HDT/Sunnex)
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