GENERAL SANTOS CITY (MindaNews/22 January) — The Commission on Elections (Comelec) is set to conduct a series of field tests for the precinct count optical scan or PCOS machines here and in nearby Koronadal City to establish their workability for the May 13 midterm local and national elections.
Lawyer Jay Gerada, South Cotabato election supervisor, said Tuesday they have identified at least four sites within the two cities for the PCOS testing, which was set on Jan. 26 by the Comelec’s Information Technology (IT) department.
He said the upcoming PCOS field tests, which were moved from their original schedule last Jan. 19, will be part of the nationally-coordinated pilot testing of the machines that would be used in the upcoming polls.
The field tests will be conducted by local election personnel and a team from the agency’s IT department, he said.
“We will mainly check the capacity of the machines, especially in terms of the processing and transmission of data,” Gerada said.
He said they will also verify the workability of the machines in certain sites and determine possible operational glitches or problems that might come up during the elections.
In this city, the official said they identified two election precincts at the Joy Divina Elementary School in Zone 8 of Barangay Bula and at Balite Elementary School in Barangay Lagao.
In Koronadal City, he said the tests will cover selected precincts at the Koronadal Central Elementary School in Zone IV of Barangay Poblacion and in another barangay-based public high school.
Gerada said they picked the two cities as sites of the initial PCOs field testing to establish the capacity of the machines in election precincts with significant number of voters.
Aside from the scheduled tests in the two cities, the official said they had proposed for the conduct of additional field tests in upland or remote areas of the province.
He said they are initially looking at voting centers and precincts in several barangays in T’boli and Lake Sebu towns in South Cotabato as potential sites for the PCOS testing.
Prior to the 2010 elections, the Comelec provincial office conducted a pilot field test for the PCOS machine in Lake Sebu’s Barangay Ned, which is considered the province’s remotest village.
“We want to test the transmission capacity of the PCOS machines in areas where mobile phone signals are limited,” he said.
Gerada said they are presently waiting for the arrival of the PCOS machines that will be used for the scheduled field tests.
He said the machines that were assigned for the field tests will comprise the initial batch of the allotted PCOS machines for the area.
They expect another set of PCOS machines to arrive in time for the training next month of teachers that will be deputized for the May 13 elections and the voter’s education campaigns scheduled in March, he said.
Gerada said they expect the arrival of the remaining PCOS machines allotted for the area two weeks before election day.
Based on the list of the 669,432 registered voters in the area, the official said they have initially assigned at least 893 clustered precincts in 368 voting centers for the May 13 elections.
He said one PCOS machine will be assigned to each clustered precinct, which will accommodate a maximum of 1,000 voters. (Allen V. Estabillo/MindaNews)