Comelec, Lente kick off manual count of sample votes in 2019 polls

Comelec, Lente kick off manual count of sample votes in 2019 polls

MANILA — The manual counting and tallying of votes in selected clustered precincts nationwide kicked off on Wednesday during the random manual audit (RMA) in Manila.

The process is facilitated by the RMA committee, composed of the Philippine Statistics Authority, the Commission on Elections (Comelec), and the Legal Network for Truthful Elections (Lente).

“The objective of the RMA is to basically check the accuracy of the vote count,” Lente executive director Ona Caritos said in an interview.

According to Comelec Commissioner Luie Guia, the committee will be processing at least 60 of the total 715 clustered precincts initially picked for the audit.

As of posting, more than 100 ballot boxes were already transported to the temporary RMA center at the Diamond Hotel. Each box contains an average of 700 to 800 ballots from two to four polling precincts.

Within two weeks, the official sees the entire reading, counting, and tallying process of votes finished.

“Our projection is two weeks, we have 60 teams working. With 60 teams, we’ll process 60 ballot boxes per day,” Guia said.

The RMA seeks to identify whether there are “discrepancies and what is its extent” from the electronically counted votes to the ones read and tallied manually by the 180 volunteer teachers, sitting as auditors.

“The output here is discrepancies and the extent of that discrepancies. We’ll send it to the technical evaluation committee which will conduct a root cause analysis,” the official explained.

Through this so-called root cause analysis, the committee will then determine whether the problem is hardware or software-related.

“After that, they will look into the extent and then recommendations will come on how it might have affected the elections,” Guia added.

Asked if the RMA results could be used in any election protest, Guia clarified that the output is only based on samples and is “not 100 percent conclusive.”

“These are only samplings, so it’s not 100 percent conclusive but it can flag issues.”  Joyce Ann L. Rocamora / PNA