SAYING it wanted 100 percent accuracy, the Commission on Elections (Comelec) on Thursday said it would conduct a more comprehensive random manual audit (RMA) of votes in the May 2016 polls with the help of the National Movement for Free Elections (Namfrel).
The RMA is meant to determine if the vote counting machines (VCMs) supplied by election provider Smartmatic Corp. are counting the votes correctly, according to Commissioner Luie Tito Guia, chairman, RMA Committee.
The Comelec, Guia said, has accredited Namfrel as the lead election citizens arm of the commission to do the RMA.
The poll body, he added, has more than tripled the number of clustered precincts that would undergo manual audit to 715 from only 234 in the 2013 elections.
“Before, it was one precinct per legislative district, now we’re going to have at least one precinct per legislative district and there can be more in proportion to the number of clustered precincts. So you would have legislative districts with two or three or even four precincts, the [election]results of which would be audited,” Guia said.
The random audit, he pointed out, is very important because “it will assure the public that the [vote counting]machines will count the votes correctly.”
Guia said the random audit would entail the manual reading of ballots that pass through the VCMs to ensure that what has been read is exactly what is written on the ballots.
He added that the increase in the number of VCMs that would be manually audited resulted from a recommendation of Namfrel and the Philippine Statistics Authority, among others.
“What is important is the randomness of the selection. Of course the more the precincts, the lower the margin of error,” Guia said.
He added, “We were told that having about 700 precincts for audit is already enough to represent the entire population, 92,000 precincts.”