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Hybrid polls in lieu of Smartmatic VCMs

The Department of Information and Communications Technology wants an “automated manual counting” system for the 2022 elections so the winning candidates will be known five hours after the polling precincts close, Acting Secretary Eliseo Rio Jr. said Wednesday. 

He said his department is now studying how to speed up the manual counting at the precinct level, remove the need to tally votes on blackboards and lessen the number of board of canvassers.

“Hybrid po more or less. Automated yung manual counting, ibig sabihin pinabilis ng teknolohiya yung pagbilang,”  Rio told Dobol B sa News TV.

“Ang [concern] lang namin is paano pabibilisin yung manual counting, paano i-automate yun na makikita ng tao yung pagbilang ng each and every ballot.

“Of course yung manual counting natin dati umaabot ng araw, papakita namin dito na puwede yung manual counting na mabilis. It can be done in five hours.”

Rio said they will present a prototype of the hybrid system to the public and submit it for the consideration of the Commission on Elections, where the DICT serves as chairman of its advisory council.

Rio says manual counting may be dated, but it removes doubt on the transparency of vote transmission, especially amid the questions on the performance of poll technology provider Smartmatic in the past elections.

“Yung transparency ang isang bagay kung bakit yung tao ngayon ay nagdududa sa Smartmatic... ang isang problema yung pagbilang nung ating mga pagboto ay machine na. Nagdedepende na tayo sa machine na ito yung bilang niya. Doon siguro puwede tayo makapag-improve sa sistema,” Rio said.

The hybrid system is also cheaper, according to Rio, adding selling all the old vote-counting machines of the Comelec at half the price could already shoulder the cost of the new system.

Rio said the system could lessen congestion by removing the clustered precincts and return to the old concept where each precinct only had around 200 to 500 registered voters.

The DICT study comes after President Rodrigo Duterte, in a speech before the Filipino community in Japan, urged the Comelec to get rid of Smartmatic, which has been supplying the country’s automated election system since 2010, and get a “fraud-free” contractor.  

Topics: Department of Information and Communications Technology , Eliseo Rio Jr. , Commission on Elections
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