Wet poll machine delays voting in Hong Kong
By Mayen Jaymalin
The Philippine Star
MANILA, Philippines – The Commission on Elections (Comelec) confirmed yesterday that a faulty election machine delayed the second day of overseas absentee voting (OAV) in Hong Kong.
OAV was also held in Singapore where the process went smoothly.
Comelec spokesman James Jimenez admitted that a damaged Precinct Count Optical Scan (PCOS) machine delayed the ongoing absentee voting in Hong Kong.
Jimenez said one of the PCOS machines, which was drenched by rain the previous night, failed to read the ballots and rejected the documents.
“The machine got wet during a rain the night before because those assigned in one of the polling precincts forgot to close the windows,” Jimenez reported.
Jimenez noted that the PCOS machine eventually worked after drying, but one of the replacement machines also broke down and is now being shipped back to Manila for repair.
He said the Comelec sent 26 PCOS machines, including six backup units for the OAV in Hong Kong.
There were reports that a PCOS machine as well as replacement unit rejected all the ballots, thus stalling the OAV in Hong Kong.
Critics said the incident resulted to five percent failure rate during the second day of the month-long overseas voting.
Jimenez, however, brushed aside reports that the incident could result in a failure of elections and pave the way for the extension of the term of President Arroyo.
“Those reports were exaggerated because the damaged machine resumed reading the ballots later on,” Jimenez pointed out.
He said that the Comelec is not prohibiting the use of sample ballots during the campaign and election period despite the request of Bagumbayan party presidential candidate Sen. Richard Gordon.
He explained that the voters commonly use sample ballots to guide them in past elections and did not affect the results of the elections.
Gordon had said the Comelec should stop the use of sample ballots because they could be used in cheating and vote buying.
“As long as those sample ballots would not be fed into the machines and they won’t be read by the election machines anyway, we will not stop their use,” Jimenez said.