Illiterates, Disabled Voters May Be AssistedBy E.T.

SUAREZJanuary 11, 2010, 8:55pm

Stressing that even illiterate or persons with disability cannot be deprived of their right of suffrage, the Commission on Elections (Comelec) has ruled that in the May 10, 2010, fully automated polls, these persons may be assisted in the preparation of their ballots either by a relative within the fourth civil degree of consanguinity or affinity, or by any person of his confidence who belongs to the same household.

If there is no such relative or person in the confidence of the illiterate or person with disability, the assistance in the preparation of the ballot could be rendered by a member of the Board of Election Inspectors (BEI), Comelec also ruled.

The Comelec, led by Chairman Jose A.R. Melo, ruled that a person with physically impaired capacity to use the automated election system (AES) may also be assisted in feeding his ballot into the Precinct Count Optical Scan (PCOS) machine.

The assistor is required to ensure that the contents of the ballot are not displayed during its feeding into the PCOS machine to protect the sanctity of the ballot.

All assistors must be of voting age, Comelec pointed out, adding that no person may assist an illiterate or person with disability more than three times, except the members of the BEI.

Meanwhile, Smartmatic-TIM has finished the manufacture of at least 45,000 PCOS machines that will be used in the elections.

“We have delivered to the forwarding companies over 38,000 machines. They are no longer in our factory. They are already in the hands of the forwarding companies and what’s going on is that they need to negotiate with different shipping companies so they can put those machines in their ships,” Cesar Flores, Smartmatic International Corporation – Asia-Pacific President, told reporters Friday.

Last year, some 7,200 PCOS were delivered by Smartmatic-TIM, followed by a delivery last week of another 8,000 machines.

Flores also gave assurance that the total 82,200 PCOS machines will all be in Manila in time for the elections.

“They will be here exactly when we need them to be here,” he said.

Given the current working pace in their factory in China, Flores said, the total production of the 82,200 PCOS machines may already be through by the end of the month.

Meanwhile, Chairman Jose Melo said he is no longer having nightmares as they have finally met some of their deadlines.

“I would like to let everybody know that in the meantime we have caught up with our deadlines,” Melo said. (with a report by Leslie Aquino)

Reproduced from