Comelec holds demo of vote counting machines

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines) — The Commission on Elections (Comelec) on Monday (January 25) demonstrated before poll advocacy groups and the media the safety and security features of the new voting machines at the Pope Pius Center in Manila.

The units are updated models of the Precinct Count Optical Scan (PCOS) machines used during the 2010 and 2013 elections.

The machines' features include:

A secured source code that makes sure the votes are interpreted correctly

An ultraviolet lamp that makes sure no fake ballot is inserted into the machine

Digital signatures of the Board of Election Inspectors, who will certify the poll returns

A voter verification paper audit trail (VVPAT) that serves as receipt of a person's votes. The machines are not only able to print a tape receipt but also have touch screen monitors that reflect the votes on the ballot.

However, enabling the VVPAT may be an issue — the Comelec worries that if a voter gets a receipt of the ballot, it may be used to sell one's vote.

The Comelec has always said that vote-buying and vote-selling are the biggest threat to to having credible elections.

Another concern is longer voting time — the polling process may extend by at least seven hours if every voter verifies results from the touch screen monitor and the tape receipt.

Various groups have called on the Comelec to enable the VVPAT for the May elections.

Comelec Chairperson Andres Bautista said that there should be a balance between efforts to facilitate the process, and efforts to discourage vote-buying and vote-selling.

During the demonstration, advocacy groups again asked Comelec to enable the VVPAT, and the poll body noted their concerns.

Bautista promised that three of the four security features will be in place. They will decide in February whether to print tape receipts.