Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Comelec invites suppliers to demo poll automation solutions

By Lawrence Casiraya -

MANILA, Philippines -- The Commission on Elections (Comelec) has requested interested suppliers to present solutions for mock elections leading to the computerization of the Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) polls next year.

Juan Villa, director for election systems at Smartmatic Solutions, reported that the Comelec has released a Request for Information (RFI) for all prospective suppliers to respond to on or before September 20.

"We are preparing our response and I'm sure the others are doing the same," Villa said via e-mail.

Interviewed via phone, Tim Diaz de Rivera, head of the technical working group tasked to assist Comelec's automation, confirmed that RFIs were issued to at least a dozen prospective suppliers.

Among those that were issued RFIs, he added, was Mega Data Corp, which previously proposed a system called Botong Pinoy that incorporates biometrics.

The Comelec plans to hold mock elections in either November or December, which would basically allow suppliers to present their automation solutions.

"We are looking at several options. One is to have separate systems for voting and counting of votes, or to have a hybrid system that can do both," Diaz de Rivera said, adding there's a chance of having multiple suppliers.

The mock elections, which is basically a demonstration of each supplier's solution, is meant to help the technical working group decide on which technology to adopt for next year's polls.

Diaz de Rivera, who is commissioner of the Commission on ICT, heads this advisory group that also includes key IT personnel from government.

"By January, we should be able to pick a supplier so we could begin holding a series of mock elections. By law, we should have at least six months’ lead time to educate both the Comelec and voters about the system," he said.

He added that the Department of Budget and Management (has already allocated funds in the 2008 budget specifically for election computerization but was not able to specify the amount

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