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Comelec may expand coverage of random manual audit

Sheila Crisostomo - The Philippine Star

MANILA, Philippines - The Commission on Elections (Comelec) is looking at expanding the coverage of the random manual audit (RMA) for the May 2016 polls.

Comelec Chairman Andres Bautista said that while the law requires only one precinct per legislative district to be covered by the RMA, he wants to increase this to three precincts.

“Of course this will entail additional costs so we have to study,” Bautista told editors and columnists of The STAR in a recent forum.

The RMA is intended to audit the results of the automated counting by comparing them with the results of the manual counting to prove the accuracy of the voting system.

In the 2013 mid-term elections, the RMA Committee (RMAC) placed the accuracy rate of the precinct count optical scan (PCOS) machines at 99.97 percent.

RMAC, which included the Parish Pastoral Council for Responsible Voting and National Statistics Office, audited a total of 1,016,860 votes from 212 of the 234 clustered precincts nationwide in 2013.

The votes for senators posted the highest accuracy rate of 99.97 percent after only 184 variance or discrepancy from the automated and manual counts were observed in 817,729 votes.

Bautista said he is hoping to get newly elected National Citizen’s Movement for Free Elections chairman David Balangue to lead the conduct of the RMA.

“Dave Balangue was the former managing partner of SGV, the biggest accounting firm (in the country). I want him to take the lead in terms of RMA,” he said.

Bautista said that while automated election is not foolproof, the system is harder to tamper with than manual voting.

“Dagdag-bawas (vote padding and vote shaving) cannot be done with the automated voting. Is it foolproof? I was told it’s not but you need a grand conspiracy to automated cheating. It’s not easy,” he added.

For next year’s elections, the Comelec will be using 90,977 new optical mark reader machines to be leased from the joint venture of Smartamtic-Total Information Management Corp.

The PCOS machines used in the 2010 and 2014 elections will be used again in the 2019 midterm- polls.

ACIRC BAUTISTA COMELEC COMELEC CHAIRMAN ANDRES BAUTISTA DAVE BALANGUE DAVID BALANGUE FREE ELECTIONS NATIONAL CITIZEN PARISH PASTORAL COUNCIL RESPONSIBLE VOTING AND NATIONAL STATISTICS OFFICE SMARTAMTIC-TOTAL INFORMATION MANAGEMENT CORP
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