Philippines in race to test vote machines ahead of Monday's vote

The embarrassing technical glitch, only discovered one week before the vote, highlighted concerns across the political spectrum about the potential for the election to fall victim to ineptitude or fraud.

Philippines in race to test vote machines ahead of Monday's vote

Philippines election officials were working frantically to deliver memory cards to roughly 80,000 vote counting machines across the vast archipelago after an initial batch of the chips were found to be faulty ahead of Monday's elections.

The embarrassing technical glitch, only discovered one week before the vote, highlighted concerns across the political spectrum about the potential for the election to fall victim to ineptitude or fraud.

The Philippines is using computers to tally the votes for the first time in a bid to speed up the process and minimise the cheating that has tarnished previous elections.

"By yesterday night, we already more than 40 percent of all the precincts tested and sealed, with very consistent, positive results," Cesar Flores, the president for Asia of Smartmatic, the company supplying the voting machines, told ANC television.

The election commission Comelec has said it expects 95 percent of machines to have been tested in time for Monday's vote. The remaining 5 percent, representing about 3.3 million votes, were in remote and violence-prone areas.

"We are optimistic that this can be higher, but it is hard to tell at the moment. We need to find out about ... where Comelec is the one doing the final delivery to the municipality because of security concerns," Flores said.

Comelec has placed seven areas, including the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM), under control of a taskforce of election officials, police and armed forces.

"Candidates"

Campaigning ended on Saturday for nearly 18,000 local and national positions, with Senator Benigno "Noynoy" Aquino the favourite to become president after two main opinion polls showed he had a lead of about 20 points over his nearest rivals.

Analysts said Aquino might not win by as much on May 10 as the polls suggested, and could still potentially be overtaken as he lacked the national party organisation of his rivals, who are better able to get their supporters out to vote. Former president Joseph Estrada, who was removed from power by an army-backed popular uprising in 2001 and later convicted of plunder before being pardoned, has gained late momentum to catch up with former frontrunner Senator Manny Villar.

Gilberto Teodoro, candidate of the outgoing administration, is placed fourth with single-digit levels of support in opinion polls, while five other candidates registered minimal support.

Fighting corruption and reducing poverty had been the key themes of the campaigns, but candidates have not been specific on details, including how to tackle the large budget deficit.

Term limits prevent President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo from running again, but she is running for a seat in the lower house of Congress, as are a number of family members.

Analysts and opponents have said she wants to become speaker of the lower house so that she can block any investigation into her administration and even engineer a shift to a parliamentary system where she could be prime minister.

Agencies

Last Mod: 09 Mayıs 2010, 17:15
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