Random manual audit can’t be used for poll protests

Ghio Ong - The Philippine Star
Random manual audit canât be used for poll protests
“(The RMA) is not conclusive of the results of a particular contest so it cannot substitute for an electoral protest,” Comelec commissioner and RMA committee head Luie Tito Guia said yesterday.
Edd Gumban

MANILA, Philippines — The random manual audit (RMA) for the recently concluded midterm election has started, with an official of the Commission on Elections (Comelec) saying that audit results cannot be used as basis for an electoral protest.

“(The RMA) is not conclusive of the results of a particular contest so it cannot substitute for an electoral protest,” Comelec commissioner and RMA committee head Luie Tito Guia said yesterday.

The RMA would just test the performance of the machines on a national basis, he said, referring to the vote counting machine (VCM).

The result of the RMA might validate the effectiveness of the poll body’s voter education campaign and ballot design, among others, he added.

The RMA would also “check the accuracy of the vote count” made by the VCM, said lawyer Ona Caritos, executive director of the Legal Network for Truthful Elections (Lente) which the Comelec chose as partner for the process.

During the RMA, teachers designated by the Comelec to act as auditors would check if the votes made on the ballot would reflect the votes recorded on both the receipts and election returns.

They would also check ballots with over-votes, under-votes and incomplete shading, the last left to their discretion.

For example, they would find out if a particular VCM counted correctly the votes shaded on a ballot, or if the VCM registered votes that were not shaded, Guia explained.

Once they find more than ten faulty marks on any candidate from a particular ballot box, Guia said it might be subjected to verification by a technical team to check if error was made by the VCM or by the RMA team doing the audit of votes.

For this election, the Comelec’s RMA committee chose 715 clustered precincts from around the country to undergo the process. Each precinct, equivalent to a ballot box, is presumed to have more or less a thousand registered voters, with between 700 and 800 who actually voted, Guia said.

RMA teams, composed of three teachers from public schools in Metro Manila, would double-check and tally votes for senator, congressman and mayor straight from the ballot boxes from the precincts.

Sixty RMA teams would target to finish auditing votes from one ballot box a day for each team, with the entire RMA done within two weeks, Guia noted.

Senatorial candidate Neri Colmenares is not conceding defeat.

“How can I concede to a rotten electoral exercise that has basically deceived, bribed, intimidated and manipulated our people into electing the worst kinds of leaders imaginable? I cannot,” Colmenares, chairman of leftist party-list group Bayan Muna, said yesterday.?“It would have been easy to concede had I lost in fair and honest elections. But this year’s elections were hardly fair or honest. Besides, this is no longer about me but about giving our people a fair chance to exercise their constitutional right to suffrage. I may have lost the count. But I will not be defeated… the fight continues,” he said.

Colmenares, a human rights lawyer, said he and his leftist colleagues would “continue to fight for socio-economic, political and electoral reforms until democracy, national sovereignty and social justice reign.”

Colmenares claimed that President Duterte justified and promoted vote buying and “threatened and intimated local politicians” to support his candidates.

He said the Comelec ignored computer glitches that put the outcome of Monday’s balloting in doubt. – With Jess Diaz, Edu Punay 



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