Fresh gear: GEC gets new ballot tabulators - KUAM.com-KUAM News: On Air. Online. On Demand.

Fresh gear: GEC gets new ballot tabulators

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 by Ken Quintanilla

Guam - Four weeks until the primary election and the Guam Election Commission is finally in receipt of new tabulation machines. After a year since its vendor recommended Guam no longer use its decades old machines, the new ones were finally were delivered today.

Fred, Larry, Al and Francisco may finally be able to retire, as the GEC finally received three new tabulation machines today. Executive director Maria Pangelinan told KUAM News, "Less than a month later, we now can report that the machines are on island and we'll be able to take delivery today."

While the machines were delivered today, last month looked like a different story. As we reported, legislation had lapsed into law appropriating funds from the SAR account for new machines. However, the GEC was informed no money existed in the primary funding source. Lawmakers went back into session a second time to appropriate the funds this time from the Fiscal Year 2014 revenues.

"They are the election systems and software model 650s - all together the bid came in $134,250," Pangelinan added.

The measure also appropriated over $48,000 to purchase ballot stock and coding services. So what happens next? "We won't open the boxes, we'll wait for the Election Systems & Software consultant to come in," she confirmed. "We expect him to be here Sunday evening and he'll report to us Monday morning. He will take a look at the machine and start training Monday evening."

That consultant is Kyle Webber from ES&S in Nebraska. Pangelinan says Webber will teach the GEC staff how to make the machines run more efficiently such as minimizing the ballots that have to be replicated and printing out reports quicker. "We know everyone wants the results as quickly as we can get them - we all know the results we hand out on the day of the election or the early morning hours, we all know they are unofficial results; we're going to see how we get to there," she said.

She adds the new machines may possibly aid in publishing the results on the GEC's website immediately. Pangelinan says the three new central tabulators are 650 models and are more durable compared to the decades old 550 models currently in storage at the GEC. What else is different?

She said, "Hopefully it's just the accuracy - the upgraded technology is there, the accuracy and the speed; if it's more accurate it tends to be faster."

Meanwhile, it was a year ago when GEC's longtime vendor recommended that Guam discontinue using its old machines that that the cost to repair them would be cost prohibitive. While two of the four machines are working, Pangelinan says our neighbors in Palau or the CNMI could possibly make use of it as they utilize the same 550 models. 

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