With only a year, two weeks and three days to go before the 2016 polls, the Commission on Elections (Comelec) is considering using only the 23,000 optical mark reader (OMR) machines that are the subject of a public bidding, under a centralized setup, a spokesman for the agency said Wednesday. Comelec spokesman James Jimenez said this “central count optical system” would bypass the need for the old 81,000 precinct count optical scan (PCOS) machines, after the Supreme Court nullified a negotiated contract with Smartmatic-TIM to have them refurbished and repaired. “What we plan now is to use the machines that are still in the bidding process. We are considering using the 23,000 OMR units for a central count optical system,” Jimenez said. The CCOS would entail transporting ballots from a group of precincts to a designated voting center where they would be scanned and tabulated.
He said that even before the Supreme Court stopped the refurbishing contract, the Comelec was already considering alternatives to using the PCOS machines. “What we will do is just to activate those contingency plans that we have laid out before,” he said.
Another alternative was to bid out the contract to repair the 81,000 PCOS machines, but with time running out, this was unlikely, he said. “There’s a very slim possibility that we could actually bid out the refurbishment,” he said. “If we are to start it now, there will be time for that. After all, the original refurbishment contract was actually slated to run only five months,” he said.
He said the Comelec has not yet decided on which plan to implement for the 2016 elections.
Full Article: Comelec seeks alternatives – Manila Standard Today.