MORE than 3,000 Precinct Count Optical Scan (PCOS) machines to be used for the May 13 elections arrived in Cebu yesterday.
Cebu Provincial Election Supevisor Eddie Aba said the PCOS machines are stored at a 2GO Express warehouse in Mandaue City and guarded by the police.
Cebu Provincial Election Officer Ferdinand Gujilde said the 3,169 PCOS machines are enough for all clustered precincts in Cebu Province.
As this developed, the Provincial Board (PB) asked the Commission on Elections (Comelec) to teach voters, especially those in far-flung areas in the province, how to use the PCOS machine.
Gujilde said election officers will schedule voters’ education seminars in the barangays in coordination with local government officials.
The PB adopted a resolution asking the Comelec to educate voters about the automatic voting system.
It said some voters, particularly those in remote towns, may be overwhelmed by the new technology.
A PCOS demonstration center was set up at SM City Cebu mall since April 5. At the center, Comelec personnel teach people how to fill up or shade their chosen candidates, and feed their ballot into the PCOS machine.
Among the problems encountered at the demonstration center, which is open until the end of this month, is paper jam and over-voting.
Over-voting occurs when a person picks—or shades—too many candidates in one section.
For instance, only 12 Senate seats are open for the May elections. If a voter picks or shades 13 names, the PCOS machine will not read the entire section allotted for senators.
The Comelec advised voters to make sure that their ballots are free of unnecessary marks or ink blots and not torn so that they will not be rejected by the machine.
“Don’t fear the PCOS machine. It may be new but it is a welcoming and friendly door to suffrage,” Gujilde said in a text message to Sun.Star Cebu when asked for his message to voters.
He said voters must wait until the LCD screen of the machine says “congratulations” before leaving.
Lawyer Anna Fleur Abelgas-Gujilde of the Lapu-Lapu City Election Office, on the other hand, met officials of the PNP and the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) to discuss security issues during the elections.
“The police and the AFP have a big role (in ensuring) the security, not only of our equipment (PCOS), but also of voters,” she said.
Lapu-Lapu City received 199 PCOS machines from Manila last Sunday, and expects to get 271 more.
The City has 173,341 registered voters with 6,341 new registrants this year.
Abelgas-Gujilde said the police and the AFP will help in the deployment of the machines to polling areas.
The Comelec also discussed the implementation of the gun ban and the liquor ban from May 9 to 13 during the meeting, which was also attended by teachers who will serve during the election.
The PCOS machines will undergo final testing on May 4. (CNU Comm Intern John Paul V. Pepito)