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COMELEC blames low quality, unsynchronized SD cards for 2019 elections delay

Photo by DZRH Christian Mano

The Commission on Elections (COMELEC) admitted that low quality SD cards might have caused the delay in various areas during Monday’s midterm elections.

COMELEC Commissioner Marlon Casquejo, the head of the steering committee, revealed on Tuesday, May 14, that Php 80 million was the Approved Budget for the Contract (ABC) of the SD cards.

However, pursuant to the rules of the Government Procurement Policy Board (GPPB), the poll body granted the contract to the lowest bidder, which bid was at Php 29 million.

What do we expect for Php 29 million (worth) SD cards for that scenario?” Casquejo said during a press briefing.

We have our maximum requirements and the minimum requirements of the SD card. However, since we expect low quality SD card, we are expecting for the defects or any reconfiguration,” he further explained.

He clarified that the SD cards passed the quality test of COMELEC. However, he stressed that the testing happened in a controlled environment, which can be different from the actual situation in polling centers.

The COMELEC official also suspects that the SD cards did not ‘synchronize’ with the vote counting machines (VCMs).

In the event na hindi nag-synchronize yung ating A and B, nagkakaroon siya ng defect na sinasabing corrupted SD cards or un-synchronized SD cards. Iyon ang palaging lumalabas na error message doon sa ating VCM,” Casquejo explained.

Casquejo also raised the possibility that the three-year old VCMs, which has been used since the 2016 elections have acquired mechanical defects while in storage or in transit.

Ang suspect natin while on transit, while pinadala yung ating machines papunta sa polling centers, baka naalog yung ating machines and then yung SD cards naging maluwag and then nagkaroon ng unsynchronized, ” Casquejo said.

Casquejo said that they will continue their investigation to identify the cause of the problems after the canvassing of votes. He added that the COMELEC will not pay the suppliers of the SD cards if their products proved to be defective.

Per the records of the COMELEC, 961 out of 85,769 VCMs and 1,665 out of 85,679 SD cards malfunctioned during the elections.

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