Kalibo, Aklan -- Should there be a power failure on the day of the first-ever automated elections throughout the country, the Commision on Elections (COMELEC) here in Aklan assures that the political exercise can still go on.
This is so because the machines provided by SMARTMATIC-TIM have built-in batteries, according to the COMELEC, which could last up to 12 hours.
This and other election-related concerns were addressed by COMELEC-Aklan here represented by Kalibo Municipal Election Officer Lorena Tumbagahan and Ibajay COMELEC Officer Jun Ruiz as guests in the weekly Kapihan Sa Aklan September 19 sponsored by the Publishers Association of the Philippines, Aklan Press Club and the Aklan Media Forum.
Concerns over the machines' capability to operate during power blackouts or failures had been raised by various sectors not only in Aklan but all over the country as the Philippines gears for the 2010 national and local automated elections.
Aklan has been besieged lately by power interruptions.
The COMELEC also answered queries on voters' education or conduct of simulated exercises, voting of illiterates, computer hacking on the day of elections, premature campaigning and other election offenses, on-going registration, clustering of precincts, etc.
Tumbagahan said the COMELEC and SMARTMATIC will be conducting massive voters' education and simulated exercises on how to operationalize the machines in the presence of the public.
Illiterates and the disabled could vote in the automated elections if they are assisted by their relatives up to the 4th degree.
"If they have no relatives or assistors, a member of the Board of Election Inspectors (BEI) could assist them", Tumbagahan said.
On the danger from hacking during election, the COMELEC, according to Tumbagahan, will be having a condition wherein hacking will not be possible during the time.
"The system is automated and will only be open to the public once the button is pressed. By the time hackers could hack, the winners are already proclaimed, because electronic results are released within a very short time", said Tumbagahan.
Registration for new voters and transferees is still ongoing up to October 31, so COMELEC-Aklan is urging those planning to register to go to their respective COMELEC offices in their towns to register before the last day of registration.
Presently, Aklan has a total of 284,349 voters.
A clustering of precincts of not more than 5 with at least 200 voters each will also be implemented in the 2010 elections.
Based on COMELEC records, Aklan has 562 clustered precincts.
On the other hand, the number of registered voters is expected to change, as more will register up to October 31, final figure of which will be released November of this year, the COMELEC said. (PIA/Venus G. Villanueva)