76,000 glitched voting machines under "quick repair," GMA lawyer wants polls postponed
In the wake of widespread glitches that occurred in the testing of Precinct Count Optical Scan (PCOS) machines on Monday, President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo's election lawyer, Atty. Romulo Macalintal, suggested that the May 10 polls be postponed, reports GMANews.TV.
Macalintal stated that in order to avert election failure, which may be brought about by extensive malfunctioning of the voting machines, the Commission on Elections (Comelec) can still defer elections by at least 15 days.
The recently-discovered PCOS machine glitches led the Comelec to reset its test schedules to May 6 or 7 with barely three days to fix all technical problems before election day. In fact, according to Inquirer.net., the poll body and its partner, Smartmatic-Total Information Management (TIM), have decided to recall and replace the compact flash (CF) cards of 76,000 PCOS machines.
In an interview on GMA News' 24 Oras last night, Comelec Commissioner Gregorio Larrazabal said that poll machine supplier Smartmatic-TIM has already properly configured the CF cards that will store the precinct-specific data which the PCOS machines need to read ballots properly.
"The solution is already okay. We tested some ballot faces, and it works. For the national and local, it's accurate already. We're (going to) start burning the CF cards tonight (May 4)," Larrazabal said.
He added: "I looked at the numbers and it's doable. Starting tonight (May 4), they start burning the CF cards and they can burn 80,000 CF cards in two days. What we're going to do is start the turning and sealing on Thursday." Larrazabal also dismissed the suggestion of postponement.
Despite this, GMANews.TV reports that civil society groups such as the Automated Election System Watch, the Black and White Movement, and the Concerned Citizens Movement want to scrap the automated elections altogether and revert back to the manual system. The Black and White Movement, in particular, said that the recent PCOS machine glitches have already "irreversibly" crushed public confidence in the automated election system.
This morning, in Dos Por Dos a dzMM radio show hosted by Gerry Baja and Anthony Taverna, Pwersa ng Masang Pilipino senatorial candidate Joey De Venecia expressed his doubts over the replacement of CF cards. He asked, "Even if they [finish burning] all the flash cards, how can they possibly distribute them all over the country before Monday (May 10, election day)?"
For now, the public can do nothing else but wait and see what happens–or doesn't happen.