Friday, February 12, 2010

Going Automated: PCOS Machines for 2010 Philippine Election

The long wait is over. For years the use of machines for voting and counting ballots has been a main issue when talks on election arise. Some say it will give results speedily; what used to be weeks of determining elected officials will only be known in a matter of days.

The use of Precinct Count Optical Scan or PCOS machines has been long delayed. For this coming 2010 elections, the usage of these automated machines are being prepared hoping that things will definitely bring the elections on track. There have been speculations that with these not only will the results be given earlier but also the cheating will be eliminated. The systems are guaranteed that it can’t be hacked and ballots won’t be stolen unlike past news on elections where even people are killed just to alter the results.

What is this PCOS machine that is said to give a certain “order” to the coming election?

The Precinct Count Optical Scan (PCOS) machine uses tabulate paper ballots where choosing would mean shading the appropriate ring that represents a candidate. There are approximately 47 million registered voters here in the Philippines. This certain number is divided among 320,000 precincts where each is estimated to have 200 voters at most. To maximize the benefits of the PCOS machine the precincts are divided into clusters. These consist of at most five precincts. This system was organized with the knowledge that a remote area has 1000 voters meaning that a PCOS machine will be able to handle that certain number.

For every cluster there is a PCOS machine and for every machine there are people involved to ensure the security of the votes. However the ensuring to the machine will start days before the said period when it will be used.

Few days before the election, testing and sealing procedures will take place. This will be done in public where they will take on test ballots, first manually count them then have them fed to the machine to do the automated checking. After the test, comparisons will be made between the manual counting and the automated counting. This will see if there is any glitch on the machine or if it is working properly. In the account that the machine is accurate and in top shape it will be sealed and only opened during the said time of usage—Election Day where it will be opened in front of different watchers and BEI.

Recently news shows that COMELEC has asked Smartmatic-TIM (the group who’ll be giving the machines) to run a test on the PCOS machines only on selected areas in Luzon, Visayas, and Mindanao. It was also reported that as per last Friday, February 5, 2010, The Commission on Election has the source code, the software that dictates the functions of computing machines, is ready.

Smartmatic did recently demonstrate the PCOS to the public in a forum in Astoria, Ortigas. However no COMELEC official was present while the smartmatics guy who demonstrated the said machine was grilled with question after question, especially as he was not able to give a good answer.

Even will all the critique on the said automation, authorities under the said automation are still confident that the usage of the PCOS machine will be pushed through. AS of now the only thing that the public should worry is who to elect especially in the presidential chair.


  1. Correction please. There are only 75471 precincts and it has one PCOS each.And the machine can read a maximum of 1000 ballots. thanks. on the other hand, nice blog :)

  2. i am happy to know that there are a lot of people who are getting involved in this 2010 Automated Elections -especially the young ones. Let us help fellow voters, let’s help in educating one another.

  3. Precinct Count Optical Scan (PCOS)??
    Scanner...not Scan.

  4. I suppose the PCOS machines are not as clean and efficient as you say,there are also error and failure rates that may occur during the election.And the machine are undeniably expensive so Filipinos deserve to know how to use it properly.

  5. TO
    Anonymous said...
    Precinct Count Optical Scan (PCOS)??
    Scanner...not Scan.
    March 4, 2010 5:42 AM

    That's why its PCOS "MACHINE"
    Precinct Count Optical Scan Machine
    ^_^ pyat.

  6. thanks for the correction..