|DRE technology suffers transmission problems, too; contingency becomes the rule|
|Written by Carolyn O. Arguillas/MindaNews|
|Wednesday, 13 August 2008 08:07|
COTABATO CITY (MindaNews/13 August) -- Commission on Elections spokesperson James Jimenez last week was optimistic results of the automated elections in the six-province, two-city Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) would be out within 36 hours after the closing of the polling precinct at 3 p.m. Monday.
Forty three hours later, at 10 a.m. Wednesday, only the provinces of Shariff Kabunsuan and Tawi-tawi have proclaimed their winning assemblymen; Shariff Kabunsuan Tuesday night and Tawi-tawi this morning.
(Basilan completed its canvassing at 10:35 a.m. and proclaimed the winning assemblymen by 1 p.m.)
In Maguindanao, which should have proclaimed the winners faster than the rest because voting, counting and canvassing are supposedly electronic, the Direct Recording Electronic (DRE) technology suffered from transmission failures since the closing of the polling precincts at 3 p.m. Monday.
In fact, the results from Maguindanao’s 22 towns were brought to the consolidation center in the capital town of Shariff Aguak, by USB memory stick or flash disk.
The USB memory stick is supposed to be a contingency measure only, to be resorted to if transmission by satellite fails.
One USB memory stick is used for every 96 voters.
As of 6:30 p.m. on August 11, some three hours after the polling precincts closed, five of eight towns for consolidation in Shariff Aguak, had submitted memory sticks. From out of 386 precincts among the eight towns, only 38 had submitted by then., representing only 9.84%.
As of 7:40 p.m., out of 96 precincts in Shariff Aguak, where the consolidation itself is being done, the results from only 29 had been transmitted, only four of them transmitted electronically.
Eden Bolo, head of the Comelec’s Technical Support Group said there were problems with satellite transmission. Staffmembers from Smartmatic, the firm behind the DRE electronic voting machines (EVM), referred reporters to their supervisor but the latter was busy calling from his mobile phone and left the provincial legislature’s hall where the provincial board of canvassing is being held.
Estelita Urbase, Maguindanao Provincial Election Superviser told MindaNews Wednesday that as of 9:25 a.m., only 94% had been “transmitted/canvassed” and “we are still waiting for South Upi’s remaining USB (memory sticks) before we can proclaim.”
But the Comelec website quoted Vince Dizon, spokesperson of Smartmatic-Sahi on August 12: “We are almost complete with the transmission of the elections results from Maguindanao. As of this morning, transmission in 17 municipalities has already been 100% completed while the rest have already reached the 95% level”.
“Yesterday, the transmission started with some few glitches but were addressed immediately, so the speed has accelerated significantly after a few hours after the closing of the polls,” the website quoted Dizon as saying.
In the other ARMM areas where OMR (Optical Mark Reader) is being used, glitches were also noted, causing delays.
As of 2007, the region had 1,464,341 registered voters with Lanao del Sur having the highest at 448,472 followed by Sulu at 274,655. Maguindanao is third with 227,603 followed by Shariff Kabunsuan which was carved out of Maguindanao in 2006, at 214,645; Tawi-tawi at 151,431 and Basilan at 147,455. (Carolyn O. Arguillas/MindaNews)