LAOAG CITY -– The Commission on Elections (Comelec) here has launched on Tuesday the new vote counting machine (VCM) which is capable of validating votes in roughly 44 seconds.

Lawyer Julius Harvey P. Balbas, Laoag City Election Officer, said that the VCM is an updated model of the Precinct Council Scan (PCOS) machines used during the 2010 and 2013 elections.

“We have more powerful machines for this May 2016 polls which are faster and easier to operate. Per voter, after shading the ballots, in less than 44 seconds votes are being casted,” Balbas said.

The machine which, Balbas likened to the performance to an upgraded version of an iPhone series when compared to other units, is also user-friendly.

He said based on their seminar for election officers held in Manila, the machine is easy to operate even for a senior citizen.

Balbas also disregarded the concern on power interruption, saying that the machine has an energy reserve of 16-20 hours.

Meanwhile, Provincial Election Supervisor Marino V. Salas said that a total of 90,000 VCMs have been delivered to the Comelec’s hub in Laguna, of which 83,000 were issued to the provinces.

The Comelec has ordered 120,000 voting equipment from Smartmatic.

The machines’ features include:

* A secured source code that makes sure the votes are interpreted correctly

* An ultraviolet lamp that makes sure no fake ballot is inserted into the machine

* Digital signatures of the Board of Election Inspectors, who will certify the poll returns

A voter verification paper audit trail (VVPAT) that serves as receipt of a person’s votes. The machines are not only able to print a tape receipt but also have touch screen monitors that reflect the votes on the ballot.

To test the efficiency of the machine, members of the media in Ilocos Norte tried to use of the machine during the launching program at the PIA-KBP Ilocandia Forum through the conduct of an on-the-spot sample voting.

In less than 44 seconds, votes are being cast and validated by the machine.

Salas said that the only problem with the machine is its sensitivity to inappropriate shading of the ballots which can cause the machine to disregard the vote.

He then advised the public to carefully read the directions in the ballot to avoid errors that can cause election delay. PNA/