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‘Spare’ vote-counting machines are needed, according to a Negros Oriental poll executive.

CITY OF DUMAGUETE – During the May 9 national and municipal elections, the Commission on Elections (Comelec) in Negros Oriental is concerned about the shortage of available contingency vote-counting machines (VCMs) to replace broken or malfunctioning devices.

Comelec-Negros Oriental provincial election supervisor-designate Lionel Marco Castillano told the Philippine News Agency Wednesday afternoon that the fact that no contingency VCM unit has yet arrived in the area is concerning.

The Comelec, according to Castillano, does not have enough contingency VCM machines to cover the entire country, thus alternative methods must be implemented at the local level to ensure that official ballots are scanned, recorded, and transmitted.

“We’re going to test and seal all of the VCMs that will be used in the elections tomorrow (Thursday), and we’re not sure if they’ll all operate,” Castillano stated.

He stated that if any of them fails, they will have to be transported to Cebu for repair unless skilled and authorized information technology (IT) personnel can fix them locally.

One contingency VCM should be sent to each of Negros Oriental’s 25 towns and cities, with the province Comelec office receiving the 26th unit.

However, Castillano claims that no word has been received on when or how many contingency VCMs will be deployed to the province.

He revealed that a handful of VCMs had malfunctioned during final testing and sealing a few days ago somewhere in Luzon.

In the case that a VCM fails on election day, Castillano suggested that the filled-out ballots be placed in a container that is officially signed and authorized by each voter, allowing the ballots to be fed later whenever a unit is available.

Voters who want to manually feed votes into the VCM will have to wait until a new device arrives at the polling location before they can vote again, he noted.

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