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Imee wants other tech providers for PH automated polls

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MANILA – In a bid for transparency, a bill has been filed at the Senate allowing other automated election systems (AES) service providers to participate in the next polls.

According to a statement on Tuesday, Senator Imee Marcos filed Senate Bill No. 221 with the aim to end the “dominance” of Smartmatic as the technology provider for the country’s automated elections.

The measure proposes to delete the provision in Republic Act 9369 or the Election Automation Law, which sets a precondition before an AES can be chosen by the Commission on Elections (Comelec).

Section 12 of RA 9369 states that the AES should have “demonstrated the capability and had been successfully used in a prior electoral exercise here or abroad.”

Dahil sa probisyong ito, wala nang pipiliing iba ang Comelec kundi Smartmatic. Inilagay sa batas ang Smartmatic control sa automated elections ng ating bansa (Because of this provision, the Comelec has no choice but to pick Smartmatic. The law allowed Smartmatic control over the country’s automated elections),” Marcos said.

“It narrowed the field of qualified service providers to Smartmatic alone and negates the entire purpose of setting other technical requirements in choosing an AES provider,” she added.

Marcos said amending this provision would allow other technology providers to be chosen by the Comelec, paving the way for “more transparent elections.”

In May, President Rodrigo Duterte urged the Comelec to end its deal with Smartmatic amid several issues that marred the recently-concluded mid-term polls.

These included glitches, such as malfunctioning vote counting machines and more than 1,000 corrupted Secure Digital cards. The poll body was able to resolve the problem by replacing the machines and cards. (PNA / Filane Mikee Cervantes)

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