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Comelec allays fears on automated polls

February 16, 2010

MANILA, PHILIPPINES–IT’S ALL ABOUT FEAR OF THE UNKNOWN.
The Commission on Elections (Comelec) said on Monday the poll body would just have to keep the presidential candidates informed about its preparations for the automated balloting in May.
Election Commissioner Gregorio Larrazabal said the concerns raised by the candidates at a forum were prompted by “a new way of voting and a new way of counting votes.”
“I guess the best way is just to inform them of what’s happening, the updates, keep people abreast of the developments so people will be aware. I guess the fear of not knowing is what’s prevalent now. It’s a fear of not knowing what will happen and we’re doing our best to address it,” he told reporters.
Larrazabal said that this was why the Comelec had been conducting public tests of the counting machines and letting people participate in the preparations as much as possible.
Other agencies are involved in the process, he said.
For instance, telecommunications firms are supposed to provide the network signals to be used to transmit the results of the voting.
The Department of Education has to have well-trained teachers to man the voting, while the power sector has to ensure adequate power supply.
“They have to do their part,” Larrazabal said. “Everybody who has a stake and a role in the success of elections must do their part. It can’t be a Comelec-only activity,” Larrazabal said.
Also on Monday, the Comelec said that the printing of about 1.5 million ballots for the elections in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) had been completed, paving the way for the printing of the ballots for the rest of the country.
The ballots for the ARMM are different from the ones to be used elsewhere, since they contain Arabic translations and are thus two inches longer than the ballots for other provinces. The ARMM ballot is 27 inches long.