The mock elections held in four pre-selected areas in two polling places in Negros Oriental Saturday were successful despite minor hitches that officials of the Commission on Elections say can be corrected before the May 13 mid-term polls.
The problem encountered during the mock polls was the low, or absence of signal from the service providers for the transmission of election results from the voting precincts to the Board of Canvassers at the city and town levels and onwards to the National Board of Canvassers.
At the precinct levels, both the telecommunications service providers Smart and Globe failed to connect the Precinct Count Optical Scan, or PCOS machines, to a modem to allow the transmission of results, causing delays as these machines had to be moved to open space for signal.
Director Teopisto Elnas of the Comelec Election Barangay Affairs Department said the low signal was attributed to a public network being used during the mock elections. He said that, on May 13, a private network solely for the polls will be used.
Observers noted that due to the perceived low turnout of voters in Camanjac and Poblacion 8 in Dumaguete City, and Kabulakan and Poblacion in Sta. Catalina town, Negros Oriental, the “flying voters”, who were not among those chosen to participate in the dry run, were accommodated.
Election officials also said they were dismayed by the perceived indifference of the voters, 50 each per voting precinct, to participate in the mock polls. Outgoing Provincial Election Supervisor Eddie Aba said the voters had been informed earlier of the mock elections through their barangay captains.
He said 153 voters of the 200 registered ones joined the mock polls. Of the number, 90 were in Dumaguete and 60 in Sta. Catalina.
Comelec records show that 46 voters had voted in Camanjac with one vote declared invalid for an ambiguous mark, while 45 had voted at the City Central Elementary School for the Poblacion 1-A voting precinct.
First to transmit results was Kabulakan in Sta. Catalina, although the Board of Election Inspectors had to move the machines to the Municipal Board of Canvassers at the town proper due to failing transmission signal.
By 3 p.m. Saturday, all four precincts had finished all requirements.
Observer Ronald Ortuoste said there is a need to educate the voters on the proper procedure of voting using the automated machines. He said ballots must be handled with care as ambiguous marks could cause rejection by the PCOS machines. A voter, whose ballot is rejected three times by the machine, may lose his vote.
Election observers included representatives from civic and church groups, poll watchers, the media, and some local officials.*JFP
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