Philippines recalls vote-counting cards over faults

The Commission on Elections has halted the shipment of vote-counting machines until the problem is fixed.

Philippines recalls vote-counting cards over faults

More than 76,000 memory cards from automated voting machines to be used in the Philippines' elections next Monday have been recalled after tests found they failed to read ballots and print accurate results.

Analysts have long expressed concern the untested system left the door open for vote fraud or in the worst case, a failed election that could lead to instability and civil unrest.

The Commission on Elections (Comelec) has halted the shipment of vote-counting machines until the problem is fixed.

"Right now, we're assuming that all of the machines are affected," Comelec spokesman James Jimenez said, adding engineers had traced the problem to the configuration of the memory cards inside the machines.

More than 50 million Filipinos are eligible to vote on May 10 to chose a president, vice president and nearly 18,000 national and local positions.

Cesar Flores, president for Asia of Smartmatic, the company supplying the machines, said there was enough time to address the problem.

"It is a logistical challenge to replace these memory cards, but it can be done and it will be done," said Flores, adding Smartmatic aimed to resume testing on Thursday.

Earl Parreno, an analyst at the Institute for Political and Electoral Reforms, said problems were to be expected.

"I see it as part of the birth pains of shifting from manual to an automated election system," he said, adding the failure of a few dozen machines was not unusual given the system had not been tested before.

"If the technical problem is so massive, that's another story. But it would not stop the elections because we can go back to the old system of counting the votes manually."

Rene Sarmiento, a Comelec official, said there were back-up plans, including a manual count, if the machines failed to produce accurate results. "We are confident failure of elections will not happen," Sarmiento said.

Comelec has previously said it could manually count up to 30 percent of the national vote in the event of problems.


Reuters

Last Mod: 04 Mayıs 2010, 14:48
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