Manual audit shows PCOS count 99.97% accurate

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By Mikha Flores, VERA Files

The automated counting of votes in the May 13 elections proved 99.9747 percent accurate, according to results of a random manual audit (RMA) of votes in more than 200 precincts nationwide.

The 99.9747 percent accuracy rate is slightly higher than the percentage reported in the 2010 elections, but still falls short of the 99.995 percent rate set by the Commission on Elections, which the RMA Chair says is understandable as machine and human appreciation will never be the same.

In the 2010 presidential election, RMA results registered an accuracy rate of 99.6 percent.

“Machine and people will never be the same. You cannot ever bed the AES (automated election system) and the manual count and come up with the perfect match because there is always the human factor to consider when the manual system…is concerned,” said Ambassador Henrietta De Villa, the Chair of the RMA Committee.

De Villa is also the chair of the Parish Pastoral Council for Responsible Voting (PPCRV), one of the election commission’s citizens’ arms.

RMA committee in Cebu City prepare their tally sheets. Photo by Mario Ignacio IV/VERA Files

“It’s not perfect but it is definitely accurate, very accurate,” says Comelec Chairman Sixto Brillantes Jr. who agrees with De Villa that the “deficiencies are in human frailty.”

Elections Commissioner Christian Robert Lim, who is in-charge of the RMA, has another take. “Pag na-match namin ang 99.995 or naka 100 percent kami, niluto na namin yan (If we were able to match 99,995 or 100 percent, then we already rigged the results).”

The accuracy rating was highest for senatorial votes at 99.9775 percent, followed by votes for mayor at 99.9748 percent and district representatives at 99.9719 percent.

The Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) posted 100 percent accuracy for the senatorial position. For district representatives, 100 percent accuracy was posted in the National Capital Region, Ilocos Region, Mimaropa, and Central Visayas, Zamboanga Peninsula, Davao region and Central Mindanao.

For the mayoralty position, 100 percent accuracy was recorded in the NCR, Cordillera Administrative Region, Ilosos, Mimaropa, Bicol Region, Zamboanga Peninsula and Central Mindanao.

The RMA recorded 184 variances out of 817,757 votes that were manually audited for senators, 27 out of 96,155 votes for district representatives and 26 out of’ 102, 976 votes for mayor.

De Villa said the recorded variances are mainly due to “clerical” and “mathematical” errors by the RMA team, whose members may have been erred due to drowsiness, fatigue and hunger.

She said RMA teams were already in their assigned clustered precincts as early as 6 pm of May 13 but had to wait until 10 pm to 12 midnight for the balloting to close before they could start the RMA.

The report RMAC released on Friday only covers only 212 out of 234 clustered precincts. Results from 22 precincts were not included for the following reasons:

  • 11 have been elevated to the Technical Evaluation Committee (TEC) for further analysis since the validation team could not explain the variances.
  • 4 are under election protests
  • One has a probable case of tampering
  • 3 have incomplete election results
  • 3 ballot boxes have incomplete ballots

De Villa said the 11 ballot boxes with the TEC will be included in a later report.

RA 9369 or the Automations Law requires a random manual audit of at least one clustered precinct for every legislative district. The RMA is a way to verify whether the PCOS machines correctly counted the votes in the May 13 elections.

Although the 2013 RMA was limited to just one clustered precinct per congressional district compared to the five precincts they used in 2010, Lim said the tasks of the RMAC were “more difficult” this time since they covered 14 “positions” -- 12 senators, district representative and mayor.

The RMA teams had to deal with “over-votes” and “under-votes” especially in the senatorial count which involves multiple entries in a single position, Lim added. Over-votes occur when a voter shades more than 12 names while under-votes happen when they shade less than 12.

In 2010, the audited positions were the President, Vice-President, Governor and Mayor.

This year’s random audit involved 1,522 people: 1,170 public school teachers, who conducted the audit, 330 from Comelec, 21 analysts from the National Statistics Office, and one from the PPCRV.

(VERA Files is put out by veteran journalists taking a deeper look at current issues. Vera is Latin for “true”.)

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