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PIA Press Release

Macrohon folks first Southern Leyteños to see PCOS machine at work

By Bong Pedalino

Macrohon, Southern Leyte (March 4) -- Machines to be used for the historic first nationwide computerized elections on May 10 this year, called Precinct Count Optical Scanner (PCOS), are user-friendly.

This was the impression many voters here felt following an actual demonstration at the municipal gym here this morning, where over a hundred voters from three Poblacion barangays huddled around the high-tech poll machine out of curiosity and a desire both to know and to learn.

Ten of those people, including this writer, were privileged to insert the 8.5 inch by 26 inch long ballot into the PCOS as what voters should do on election day -- and what an exciting experience it was, much like the real thing.

This town went on record as the very first to taste the real thing, indeed, among the 18 towns of Southern Leyte province, surpassing even Maasin city.

How come? Macrohon Election Officer Lino Japson explained they were granted permission to use one of the PCOS intended for Board of Election Inspectors (BEI) training, which starts on March 15 up to 31, for six classes at 30 teachers per class, two days each class, at Jaimee's Restaurant in barangay Ibarra.

But this unit will be shared by five towns, namely Macrohon, Padre Burgos, Limasawa, Malitbog, and Tomas Oppus, so Japson took the initiative to start early, going through a number of barangays in a couple of days before turning over the PCOS to the next town.

Other towns were also grouped to share another PCOS just like the Macrohon to Tomas Oppus area.

This writer is voter number four in a sample of ten. The first two went without hassles, the third ballot was returned after inserting from the PCOS -- but Japson said there are still four chances to insert again in any orientation, until it was successfully inserted.

At the crystal display of the PCOS the following can be read for successful insertion: "Congratulations! Your vote has been registered."

That was what was printed after I had finished doing my turn. Others following me, except two, were okay as well.

When inserting the ten sample ballots were over, and assuming it was 6:00 p.m., the closing time, a series of technical operation was done on the PCOS -- then lo and behold: it printed an election return containing the number of votes cast per candidate from President down to Sangguniang Barangay member, representing the hard copy of the election at the precinct level.

What's more, after printing eight out of 30 copies, the PCOS will electronically transmit the data to the political parties, the media, the municipal board of canvassers, provincial board of canvassers, and comelec central office, among others.

Somewhere along the process of transmission any possibility of being hacked? This is unlikely, the Comelec personnel assured, since there are over a million combinations to operate a PCOS any hacker would better hack systems of banks.

In fact, Election Officer Japson's prayer is no longer on the technicalities of it all; he implores divine intervention so that candidates should have amnesia come election day so they forget to buy votes.

Still, the PCOS does not discriminate any kind of voters -- it is still user-friendly. (PIA-Southern Leyte) [top]

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