Poll chairman Sixto Brillantes said Wednesday the schedule was changed due to the arrival of the machines and the readiness of the board of election inspectors (BEIs) to test and seal them for the May 13 polls.
“Pag dumating na ngayon at ready na ang BEIs gusto na nila i-testing agad kasi hindi sabay-sabay ang dating. Tsaka pag andun na ang PCOS, ready na paraphernalia, ready na for FTS, pwede na mag-umpisa,” he told reporters.
One of the areas to first conduct an FTS on Thursday is Pasay City, first district. The whole of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao is expected to conduct FTS on May 10.
Brillantes said most of the areas will have their FTS on May 6.
During the FTS, BEIs test the usability and accuracy of each PCOS machine by feeding it 10 test ballots to check that they are received and counted by the machine, said Brillantes. He said the ballots will also be counted manually to check for discrepancies.
The detailed instruction for BEIs on the testing and sealing of PCOS machines and voting, counting and transmission of results on May 13 is stated in Comelec Resolution 9640.
After the FTS, the PCOS machine will be sealed again and stored in the school or returned to the hub where it will be secured by Comelec security personnel or military and police personnel.
In 2010, glitches marred the FTS when some PCOS machines failed to accurately read votes, forcing the Comelec to pull out and replace all the compact flash cards in the voting machines.
Brillantes said they do not expect a similar problem from happening this time.
“We do not anticipate anymore these things to happen kasi sinigurado namin yan. Kung mangyari man, it will only be isolated cases of CF cards being defective, then we can easily remedy it,” he said.
“If we were able to replace all the 76,000 CF cards in 2010 in less than a week, we should be able to solve isolated problems of CF cards,” he added.
Brillantes said transmission testing, or testing if the election results will be transmitted from a PCOS machine to a server, will not be included in the FTS.
He said transmission test, which will also start Thursday, is a separate endeavor as they will be checking the areas with weak signal.
“Kinacounter check lang yung mga area na weak o kaya wala[ng signal], kung saan kami maglalagay ng area BGAN [broadband global area network] and VSAT [very small aperture terminals] para assurance lang na alam namin kung saan pwede humina o lumakas,” he said.
He refused to say how many areas have weak signals.
“Hindi namin sasabihin. Malalaman nyo kung ilang voters ang involved,” he said.
He added that they have a special arrangement with three telecommunication firms for the transmission of results. — BM, GMA News