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Comelec sends 4 new counting machines to HK

15 April 2016

By Vir B. Lumicao

Consulate officials heaved a sigh of relief yesterday, Apr. 12, when four additional vote counting machines (VCM) arrived at the polling center in Kennedy Town yesterday.
One of the new machines will replace the one that conked out on the first day of voting for the 2016 Philippine national elections on Apr. 9, while the three spares will be on standby if the problem recurs.
Vice Consul Fatima Guzman, who was the day’s designated election officer, said the VCMs were locked up for security reasons at Bayanihan Centre where the voting is being held, pending the installation of the replacement unit for precinct 6.
The broken VCM was disabled and shipped back to Manila on Apr. 10.
In the last overseas election in 2013, three voting machines also broke down on the first day, but were immediately ordered replaced by then Commission on Elections chairman Sixto Brillantes.
With the problem over for the malfunctioning VCMs seemingly over, the only bug left in the month-long elections appears to be the recurring problem of missing names in the list of voters for Hong Kong.
A few of those who showed up were de-listed for failing to vote in two succeeding elections, while some insisted they were taken off the registry for no reason.
By noon yesterday, eight people were not able to vote because their names were not in the voters’ list.
At least one would-be voter, Maria Cristina Cruz, was upset to learn that she was not in the Comelec’s list, despite signing up during the overseas voting registration that ended on Oct. 31.
“I registered on Oct 27 last year but now they tell me my name is not on the list,” Cruz complained to Quintin, showing the strip of paper containing her registration number.
The Consulate’s secretariat immediately contacted Comelec in Manila, but were told that Cruz was not registered.
An even bigger number appears to have encountered the same problem on the first Sunday of voting on Apr. 10, when more than 4,000 people turned up to cast their ballots.
Those who have proof that they did register are usually told that their cases would be appealed to Comelec, but those who did not keep their registration slip had no recourse.
On Day Four of the election, a total of 488 enthusiastic voters showed up at Bayanihan to pick their next president and vice-president, 12 senators and one partylist representative.
The figure brought to 5,603 the number of Filipinos who have cast their ballots since April 9.
Comelec says it is expecting a turnout of 80% in the overseas ballot, as the election is a hotly contested one, with the four top contenders running neck-and-neck in surveys.

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