By Vann Marlo M. Villegas, Reporter
THE Commission on Elections (Comelec) will hold mock elections on Jan. 19 in 60 clustered precincts in 30 areas to test-run the automated system for the May 13 midterm polls.
The mock elections will be conducted in Quezon City (1st and 2nd Districts), Manila (5th District), Pasig (2nd District), Taguig, Pateros, Valenzuela City (1st District), Muntinlupa City, Alaminos City and Dagupan City in Pangasinan, Tuguegarao City and Aparri in Cagayan, Sorsogon City and Matnog in Sorsogon, and Iriga City and Buhi in Camarines Sur. Mock polls will also be conducted in Cebu City (1st District) and Santander in Cebu; Albuquerque and Cortes in Bohol; Dapitan City and Sergio Osmeña, Sr. in Zamboanga del Norte; Digos City and Bansalan in Davao del Sur; General Santos City and Surallah in South Cotabato, Jolo and Tongkil in Sulu; and Lamitan and Sumisip in Basilan.
Comelec spokesperson James B. Jimenez said the mock election is required under Republic Act No. 9369, the law which authorizes Comelec to conduct an automated system.
“The mock election will test and ensure the security features, accuracy, and functional capability of all these elements: the voter registration verification system (VRVS), the VCMs (vote counting machine), transmission devices and the consolidation and the canvassing system,” Mr. Jimenez said.
“Isang purpose ng mock elections is to ensure na magkaroon tayo ng opportunity na makita kung ‘yung mga proseso natin ay gumagana ba. Mapa-fine tune natin ‘yung mga procedure na nakabalot naman doon sa sistema (The purpose of mock elections is to ensure that we will have an opportunity to see the if the process works. We will fine-tune the procedures included in the system),” he added.
Mr. Jimenez also said the Comelec will test in three clustered precincts (one each from Pasig City, Quezon City, and Manila) the VRVS which uses biometrics data of voters to check if they are registered with the poll body.
He said that in the actual elections, only the precincts in Manila, Quezon City, unidentified municipalities in Pangasinan, Cavite, Cebu, Negros Occidental, Zamboanga del Sur, Davao del Sur and all provinces in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao will use the new system.
Mr. Jimenez also said the new system would add an estimated five minutes in the voting procedure.
“(W)e expect that it’s only for the pilot test na makikita natin ito, kasi (that we can only see this, because) when we go into full implementation in the future, ‘yun na lang ang prosesong gagamatin mo (that will be the process used). So ni-replace mo lang ‘yung libro (you just replaced the book), and to that point it will be even quicker kasi ‘yung (because) search mo digital na, hindi ka na magli-lift through a book (the search will be digital, you don’t have to lift through a book).”