Partial results from the Commission on Elections’ (Comelec) random manual audit (RMA), intended to test the capacity of vote-counting machines (VCM) to read ballot shades in the May 13 polls, showed a 99-percent accuracy rate, a Comelec official stated last Thursday.
Yet the RMA also exposed election problems that merit investigation, such as excess or missing ballots, torn ballots, and ballots delivered to the wrong precinct.
Commissioner Luie Guia stated at a press conference, “We are going to refer these to proper authorities for investigation, for proper action.”
The Comelec was supposed to sample 715 clustered precincts for the mandatory RMA, but four precincts were removed from the sampling process after the election problems were discovered.
“We have consulted the Philippine Statistics [Authority (PSA) to check] if we can have an acceptable conclusion without the four precincts, and we were advised that we can because the 711 samples were already representative of the whole population,” Guia added.
The RMA’s exposed excess ballots in Barangay Santol, Quezon City; missing ballots at Barangay Panggawalupa in Lanao del Sur, which meant that the number of voters did not match the number counted by the machine; torn ballots or ballots cut in half at Barangay Pinaglapatan in Quezon province, which Guia said could be the result of a misunderstanding on the voting procedure that required teachers to cut all excess or unused ballots in half, and ballots intended for one precinct winding up in another precinct at Barangay Cubacub in Cebu.
The final result of the RMA, according to COMELEC with more expounded figures, explanations and observations, may be out soon.
The RMA is authorized under Section 24 of the Automated Election Law and is meant to test the VCM’s effectiveness in reading marks on the ballot. It is not meant to validate election results, Guia said.
Comelec has led four RMAs so far, with the first done in 2010.
The 2019 RMA held at the Diamond Hotel from May 15 to June 5, was the most covered and most transparent. It was also the most centralized, with all the ballots brought to Manila for the RMA process that lasted 22 days, according to Guia.
Three agencies and groups helped the Comelec this year: the PSA, Lente and the Philippine Institute of Certified Public Accountants. Public school teachers did the audit together with lawyers, accountants and statisticians. Representatives from political parties were also present.