Glitches hound OAV in Hong Kong — reports

Glitches hound OAV in Hong Kong — reports
Kontra Daya

News Release
April 12, 2010

Glitches hound OAV in Hong Kong

Several glitches happened on the second day of voting for overseas Filipinos in Hong Kong, based on reports gathered by the watchdog group Kontra Daya.

Based on reports by poll watchers in Hong Kong, there were two instances of breakdown in the PCOS machines documented in SBEI (Special Board of Election Inspectors) Nos. 15 and 16.

According to Aaron Ceradoy of the poll watchers committee of Gabriela Hong Kong, two of their poll watchers witnessed and documented the breakdown in the PCOS machines. The accounts are as follows:

In SBEI 15
1. At 8:30, the PCOS machine was not accepting the filled out ballots of the seven (7) voters in the precinct.
2. At 8:35, a new PCOS machine was brought in to replace the malfunctioning PCOS machine. Test ballot with serial no. 9911571 was fed into the machine. It was accepted. However, the ballots of the seven (7) voters were still not accepted, even after several attempts.
3. At 9:30, one ballot was accepted by the PCOS machine but not the other six (6). At 9:45, a voter left her ballot to the SBEI.
4. At 9:52, a new machine was brought in but still rejected the ballots.
5. At 10:00, the first PCOS machine was brought back. They learned that the machine was damp. To dry it, the IT personnel of the COMELEC shut the machine down.
6. By 10:20, the machine was turned on again. At 10:34, the machine was already accepting the ballots.

In SBEI 16
1. At 8:30, the PCOS machine was rejecting the ballots.
2. The machine finally worked 30 minutes after it was fixed by the IT personnel of the COMELEC. By 9:15AM, the machine started accepting the filled out ballots.

“The glitches and breakdowns in the PCOS machines here in HK, may be a prelude to the endless possibilities of errors, problems and disturbances when elections start in the Philippines on May 10,” said Ceradoy.

“Registered Filipino voters overseas have at least 28 days to vote. They can opt to go back should they encounter such problems. But in the Philippines, they don’t have the luxury of time,” he added. “The glitches, problems, delays and all possible hindrances that we will encounter in 30 days will all happen in just one day in the Philippines. There won’t be many opportunities for a double-take,” Ceradoy told Kontra Daya.

News reports have attributed the breakdown of the PCOS machines in Hong Kong due to humid weather. Kontra Daya expects similar scenarios can take place in areas in the Philippines known for their humidity. The group said that polling precincts in the Philippines are normally not air-conditioned rooms, and that a PCOS machine running for 11 hours may encounter problems.

The two-hour delay in SBEI 15, Ceradoy relayed, can be seen as a big setback should it occur in the Philippines. “With the sheer number of voters in the Philippines per precinct, one cannot help but fear the possibility of massive disenfranchisement,” he told Kontra Daya.

Kontra Daya said that the events in Hong Kong is a strong argument for the holding of a new round of mock elections in the Philippines involving more precincts with the expected 1,000 voters per precinct. The group has long pressed the Comelec to conduct the new mock polls in the light of the updated General Instructions which cover the occurrence of rejected ballots and machine breakdown. A new process in the voting, the manual scanning of the UV marks, has also been added after the Comelec shut down the UV scanners in the PCOS machines.

Migrant groups in Hong Kong are challenging the COMELEC to reveal all its back-up and emergency plans given the developments in the overseas elections in Hong Kong.###

Karen Ang

A plebeian who is trying to make small changes in this world.