Precinct Count Optical Scan
Precinct Count Optical Scan or PCOS is a paper-based ballot voting and counting machine. The Philippines will use the PCOS for its first automated elections in May 2010 Elections.
Parts of the machine
- Feeder - This is where the voter personally inserts the ballot after filling it out. The machine accepts any orientation, either top or bottom first.
- Touch Screen - This is used by the Board of Election Inspectors (BEI) to transact with the machine. It displays messages like the confirmation of a voter's accomplished ballot.
- Thermal Printer - It prints out election returns, an audit trail & transmission of returns that uses high quality paper that can last at least 5 years.
- Backup Battery - The battery runs up to 16 hours in case of power failure.
The PCOS is a scanner with an advanced optical character recognition for scanning, recording, and collating the ballots as they are fed into the machine. It has a security key which turns on the PCOS on Election Day. The key is coded individually and can't be used with others; each machine will be switched on by three teachers from the Board of Election Inspectors (BEI). The activated security key will ensure that there is no entry or vote in the machine's memory.
- Position Identifiers / Markers: Placed on all sides of the ballot are position identifiers, whose intersection points would indicate the placement of an oval. This allows the system to accurately locate the position of a mark, and evaluate it accordingly.<ref></ref>
- Bar Code. Each ballot has a unique bar code. This makes sure that each ballot is counted only once, and at the canvassing level, can identify the details of the ballot (the precinct it was casted in, the machine that evaluated the ballot, etc.<ref></ref>
- UV Ink: Each ballot is also marked with UV ink, which is not readily apparent on casual scrutiny. This mark is visible to the special lens and light of the Automated Counting Machine, which verifies first the presence of the UV ink before casting a vote. <ref></ref>
The PCOS is programmed with precinct information like location and number of voters in a precinct. The machine will not read invalid ballots such as fake, photocopied, and previously inserted or scanned ballots.
The machine will scan the marked ballots after the voter slips it in. The election results are encrypted and saved onto CompactFlash Cards and can be transported to a precinct that can transmit to the central counting server in case of transmission failure.
After the polls have been closed, the machine will count all the votes and will produce 8 copies of election returns, a statistics report, and an audit log.
In 2009, twenty units of PCOS were delivered by Smartmatic International Corp.-Total Information Management Technology (TIM) and used for the training of teachers who will be part of the BEI. The machines were also tested to withstand the different weathers and country's varying weather and topography.
As of March 2010, over 78,000 machine units are ready for use and have passed stress, security, and laboratory tests.
- PCOS Demo Ibanangayon.ph (Accessed 31 March 2010)
- Get to know the 2010 automated election machine Thepoc.net (Accessed 31 March 2010)
- PCOS Precinct Count Optical Scan Machines Unboxed Botomoto.com (Accessed on 30 March 2010)
- 20 precinct count optical scan machines delivered Philstar.com (Accessed on 30 March 2010)
- How does the precinct count optical scan work Wisediscoveryinfo.com (Accessed 30 March 2010)
- Updates On Ballot Printing, PCOS Machine Testing Botomoto.com (Accessed 30 March 2010)
- FAQ Ibanangayon.ph (Accessed 30 March 2010)