Audit shows national polls 99.6% accurate

Posted at 07/29/2010 12:43 PM | Updated as of 07/29/2010 1:11 PM

MANILA, Philippines - Results of the May 10 automated elections for national positions were 99.6% accurate, according to a random manual audit conducted by various election stakeholders.

In a press conference held on Thursday at the Commission on Elections (Comelec), Florante Varona of the National Statistics Office, which helped conduct the random manual audit, said the variance of 0.4% is equivalent to only 2,174 votes out of 540,942 votes included in the random manual audit. "This is quite small," he said.

It said a breakdown of the accuracy rates per region ranged from 99.87% to 99.17%.

Henrietta de Villa, chairwoman of the Parish Pastoral Council for Responsible Voting (PPCRV), said the random manual audit checked the votes in a total of 1,145 clustered precincts to see if they matched the results of the automated elections. She said the audit started right after the May 10 elections and were conducted by Boards of Election Inspectors (BEI) and personnel from the Commission on Elections (Comelec).

She said that in most cases of variances, the error was usually due to wrong computation or wrong encoding of the BEIs.

She also noted that the audit uncovered discrepancies in only 3 areas where the number of ballots did not match the number of votes counted by the automated counting machines.

In one precinct in Pambujan, Northern Samar, the Precinct Count Optical Scan (PCOS) machine counted 742 ballots, but the random manual audit counted 718.

"The number of votes just wouldn't tally. We were suggesting to the Commission en banc recall the team that did the random manual audit and the [board of election inspector] of the precinct to explain the reasons regarding discrepancies on number of votes," she said.

She said the same problem also cropped up in 2 precincts in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao: in Lutayan, Sultan Kudarat and Maluso, Basilan.

"There were stray ballots and rejected ballots and variances in number of votes. The number of votes did not tally with the number of votes counted and the number of voters registered and those who actually voted," she said.

She said 1 precinct in Manila's 3rd District also showed that the ballots had a line right across the ballots. A check on the PCOS machine used for the counting revealed that "a fiber-like substance, like the ink of the pen" was stuck in the machine, causing the printing of the line.

She said the case has been elevated to the Comelec.

Comelec Chairman Jose Melo said the results of the random manual audit shows no significant discrepancies between the PCOS count and the manual count. He added that the discrepancies were not due to fraud but human error.

De Villa, meanwhile, said the experience also proved that a parallel manual count during the automated elections is not feasible because it is prone to error.