By Rea Cu, June 7 2019; Business Mirror

Image Credit to Business World

THE Random Manual Audit Committee (RMAC) has reported that it is already finished with the manual audit of ballots from its sample size of 715 clustered precincts for the 2019 midterm elections, reporting an overall accuracy rate of 99.9953 percent.

Commission on Elections (Comelec) Commissioner Luie Tito F. Guia said that the random manual audit (RMA) originally slated for 715 cluster precincts was narrowed down to 711 cluster precincts, as four cluster precincts failed to be included in the audit.

He said that one clustered precinct in Quezon City was excluded from the manual audit as excess ballots were found in their respective vote-counting machines (VCM), one clustered precinct from Lanao del Sur was reported to have missing ballots, one clustered precinct in Quezon province was reported to have all ballots torn in half, while a clustered precinct in Cebu was reported to have ballots from a different cluster precinct in its ballot box.

He said the Comelec is investigating what happened to the four clustered precincts excluded from the RMA. Guia said the RMAC concluded its manual audit on June 5, 2019, with the 711 clustered precincts audited already representative of the whole population. The audit began on May 15.

“Seven hundred eleven samples that were audited are already representative of the whole population…The audit is intended to determine whether there are systemic errors in the way the VCM read the vote shades on the ballots,” Guia said.

He emphasized that the results reported were the initial findings of the RMAC, and that it will come out with a final book report including assessments and analysis of figures after two to three weeks.

“This is just the initial report because in three weeks’ time we will have finalized the book report. After this, Lente will start its assessment and will be submitting its report; same thing with the PSA, and after two weeks we will meet for the common finding,” he added.

For the 2019 midterm polls, 715 clustered precincts were randomly drawn through the automated random selection program coming from the 85,769 clustered precincts in the country. PSA Chief Statistical Specialist Florante C. Varona said that the accuracy rate for 2019 of 99.9953 percent is the highest
reported during the four national and local elections conducted in the country using an automated election system (AES).

According to the PSA, the 2016 elections recorded an accuracy rate of 99.9027 percent, the 2013 elections with 99.9747 percent and the 2010 elections with a 99.5980 percent accuracy rate.

The higher accuracy rate for the midterm elections this year was attributed to better processes implemented by the RMAC by applying its learnings from previous election years. This includes centralizing in one place the manual audit instead of implementing it in different precincts, as well as providing extensive training to those who were tapped to audit the votes, among others.

The RMAC is composed of representatives from Civil Society Organizations accredited as a citizen’s arm, the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA), as well as the Comelec. The CSO chairs the committee. The poll body had 60 teams, with three teacher-volunteers each, assigned to counter-check votes in the ballots with the results of the AES.

Guia said the PSA made sure that processes implemented during the RMA are statistically sound and acceptable, while the Legal Network for Truthful Elections (Lente) and the Philippine Institute of Certified Public Accountants (Picpa) made sure that rules and processes were followed and the manual audit was observed.