MANILA, Philippines - The Optical Mark Reader (OMR) is the most appropriate technology to use in the 2013 polls.
This was the recommendation made recently by the Commission on Elections (Comelec) Advisory Council after screening various automated election systems (AES).
"After evaluating all the available AES options, OMR provided several advantages that proved why it is still the most appropriate for elections in the Philippines. One of them is the use of printed ballots, which provides a clear audit trail as opposed to purely electronic voting," CAC Chairman and Information and Communications Technology Office (ICTO) Executive Director, Engr. Louis Casambre said.
Other reasons cited by the council why the OMR was chosen were: Its ease of use, ease of voter education, high degree of auditability, proven technology, and public acceptance.
To recall, OMR is the same technology applied by the Precinct Count Optical Scan (PCOS) machines used in the 2010 national elections.
The recommendation of the council to use the OMR also came with several conditions and suggestions, some of which were: The use of standard and verifiable signatures of personnel and machines, secured machine facilities, storage of raw scanned data, optional on-screen voter verification, as well as an open review of source code and circuit schematics.
"Some of these suggested features were actually features in the 2010 PCOS machines but were not effectively implemented in the 2010 elections. We would like to see these security features used in the upcoming one, as they provide several levels of safeguards against electoral fraud," Casambre said.
In the purchase of the machines to be used for the 2013 elections, aside from considering the cost of money, including cost of storage, and ensuring reliability of previously used hardware, it was also recommended that for the purchase of any machine, the Comelec is to take into consideration that ownership of the software which runs the machine is clearly stipulated as part of the purchase with the provision that the Comelec is free from any legal encumbrance as to its use in the way it deems fit for the 2013 elections and other elections thereafter.
RA 9369 tasks the CAC to recommend to the Comelec "the most appropriate, secure, applicable, and cost-effective technology to be applied in the Automation Election System (AES)" for the 2013 elections.