There are news reports this morning that some of the electronic balloting machines scheduled to be used in the Philippines' elections on May 10th are having "technical issues."
According to this story in the Philippine Star, "... some of the precinct count optical scan (PCOS) machines to be used by the Commission on Elections (Comelec) failed test runs in some parts of the country, prompting a stop to the testing and a recall of the machines."
The story goes on to say, "During the testing, the machines were able to count the votes cast for the candidates in the first row but it did not read the votes in the second row presumably because of the space between the two rows."
Smartmatic and its Filipino partner Total Information Management Corp. (TIM) which provided the machines said that they would be replacing the four-gigabyte compact flash memory cards installed in all the PCOS machines assigned to each of the 76,000 polling precincts.
There have been worries for the past year about whether there had been enough prior testing of the machines, while others worried over the possibility of voter fraud. Comelec has downplayed those issues, and has assured that fair elections can be held.
A Reuters story says that the government had initially planned to postpone the election for two weeks, but that the election would now go on as scheduled. Opposition parties had strongly opposed any delay.
Some 50 million Filipinos are eligible to vote for president, vice president and other officials to fill nearly 18,000 national and local posts.
Robert N. Charette is a Contributing Editor to IEEE Spectrum and an acknowledged international authority on information technology and systems risk management. A self-described “risk ecologist,” he is interested in the intersections of business, political, technological, and societal risks. Charette is an award-winning author of multiple books and numerous articles on the subjects of risk management, project and program management, innovation, and entrepreneurship. A Life Senior Member of the IEEE, Charette was a recipient of the IEEE Computer Society’s Golden Core Award in 2008.