Random manual audit of votes matches 99.9% of Philippine election returns


MANILA (Philippine Daily Inquirer/Asia News Network): The Commission on Elections (Comelec) reported on Sunday (May 22) that the ongoing random manual audit (RMA) of votes cast during the May 9 elections has so far matched 99.9 per cent of the automated election returns (ERs) for national and selected local elective positions, negating persistent suspicions that the electronic voting system was flawed and susceptible to cheating.

The RMA is a process the Comelec undertakes during elections to determine whether the electronic count of the vote-counting machines (VCMs) under an Automated Election System is accurate based on the manual verification of the ballots.

The RMA, which is being conducted in partnership with the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) and civil society organizations, kicked off last May 10, a day after the nationwide polls. The 45-day manual audit involves 757 ballot boxes from randomly chosen clustered precincts across the country and is being conducted at the Diamond Hotel Manila.

Among the Comelec’s partners in the RMA are election watchdogs Legal Network for Truthful Elections (Lente), National Citizens’ Movement for Free Elections (Namfrel), the Philippine Institute of Certified Accountants (Picpa) and the audit professionals group ISACA Manila chapter.

As of May 21, the Comelec said ballots from 128 of the total 757 clustered polling precincts randomly selected for checking have been manually audited and so far, the average overall accuracy rate of the VCM tally with the manual audit was 99.93175 percent.

Per position, the accuracy rate was 99.9721 percent for president; 99.9469 percent for vice president; 99.9759 percent for senator; 99.7954 percent for a party list; 99.958 percent for district representative, and 99.9422 percent for mayor.

According to the Comelec, the accuracy rate was computed “based on the marks and votes cast per position as encoded by the [PSA].”

The audit teams have retrieved 737 of the 757 identified ballot boxes to be audited and have so far finished the manual counting of 128 ballot boxes and are currently auditing 60 others.

“The random manual audit will determine and will bolster our faith in the electoral system. That the machine count is accurate and that the machine counts is what is reflected in the ballots,” Comelec Commissioner Aimee Ferolino, who is in charge of the poll body’s RMA committee, said in a short speech at the launch of the RMA.

“So after the conduct of the RMA, I am sure and I am confident that we can prove once again the accuracy of our machines and that our electoral system is reliable,” she added.

Suspicions of fraud in the conduct of the May 9 elections were initially fueled by malfunctioning VCMs, creating long lines of voters in many areas nationwide.

There were also several online posts raising concern over an alleged consistency in the margin of votes between leading presidential candidate former Sen Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr and his rival, Vice President Leni Robredo, in the first hours of vote transmission to the Comelec transparency server.

Constitutional mandate

Meanwhile, the canvassing of votes for president and vice president and the subsequent proclamation of winners will proceed this week despite a pending appeal in the Supreme Court for the reversal of the Comelec decision to dismiss a disqualification case against Marcos Jr.

Speaker Lord Allan Velasco assured the public that the canvassing of votes and proclamation of winners in the presidential and vice presidential race would be “expeditious, transparent and credible.”

The Senate and the House of Representatives are set to convene on Tuesday as the national board of canvassers (NBOC) for president and vice president.

In a statement on Sunday, Velasco said the case against Marcos Jr. in the high court would not impede the canvassing and the subsequent proclamation of winners.

“Our duty to canvass is mandated by the Constitution itself,” he pointed out, adding, “nothing therein says that this duty is suspended while a case, which has already been dismissed by the Commission on Elections, is pending with the Supreme Court.”

“We are bound to proclaim the winning president and vice president, and uphold the will of the people with dispatch,” Velasco pointed out.

According to the Speaker, “Congress, sitting as the NBOC, is duty-bound to make sure that the entire process of vote counting and transmission of results will be done expeditiously and with utmost transparency and integrity.”

Both houses of Congress have agreed to proclaim the duly elected president and vice president on May 27.

Proclamation process

On Monday, the Senate and the House will hold separate sessions to adopt a joint resolution convening the NBOC made up of contingents from both chambers.

Each contingent, the chair of which would be designated by the Senate President and the House Speaker, will have seven regular members and four alternate members.

The Senate will initiate the delivery to the House the ballot boxes containing the certificates of canvass to be counted and the House Speaker and the Senate President will preside over the joint session.

The joint committee will decide on all questions and issues raised involving the certificates of canvass by a majority of vote of its members, each panel voting separately.

In case the two panels disagree, the chairperson’s decision will prevail while a deadlock will be resolved by the Speaker and the Senate President.

Once canvassing is completed, the joint committee report must be approved and signed by a majority of the members of the joint committee, each panel voting separately.

The report will then be submitted to the joint public session for consideration and approval by a majority of senators and House members, voting separately, after which a resolution of both chambers will be adopted proclaiming the duly elected president and vice president.

It is only after the adoption of the resolution of both chambers that the House Speaker and the Senate President can proclaim the president-elect and the vice president-elect.

Article type: free
User access status:
Join our Telegram channel to get our Evening Alerts and breaking news highlights

Philippines , Comelec , votes , count , eletion , returns

   

Next In Aseanplus News

Brunei capital Bandar Seri Begawan is abuzz with Eco Festival
ASEAN envoy appeals to Myanmar junta to spare Suu Kyi jail
Budget-busting inflation relief forces Asia into narrowing aid to the most-needy
Youth sparkles but swimming's golden oldies still winning titles at World Championships in Budapest
Ukraine's Zelensky to press G7 for more help as war rages
Emerging markets: Thai central bank says inflation will be higher than expected as Asia FX rise on respite from recession woes
Cricket-Pandya backs Malik to shine for India despite forgettable debut
Personal data protection bill faces further delay despite progress in Indonesia
Asian shares rally after Wall Street logs rare winning week
Oil prices volatile ahead of G7 discussions on Russian exports

Others Also Read