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Automated polls 99.6% accurate, manual audit shows

The results of the country’s first ever nationwide automated polls on May 10 were “99.6 percent accurate," a random manual audit (RMA) of over a thousand clustered precincts showed. A report of the technical working group that conducted the audit, showed that on the average, results of the machine and manual counts differed only by 0.49 percent, or a total of 2,174 votes out of the 540,942 votes included in the RMA. TThe report, submitted to the Commission on Elections (Comelec) on July 20 and released to the media Thursday, showed that the discrepancy was mainly due to “clerical" errors in encoding the manual results committed by the Board of Election Inspectors (BEIs) who conducted the RMA. Some of the discrepancies were also caused by "mathematical errors" or wrong computations by the BEI, the report added. The technical working group has thus recommended the training of BEIs for RMA before the elections. The group, headed by Parish Pastoral Council for Responsible Voting (PPCRV) Chairperson Henrietta de Villa, also recommended the printing of “accurate and understandable" handbooks on how to conduct the manual count. A total of 1,145 clustered precincts, or five precincts per legislative district, were subjected to RMA on election day to check whether the automated and manual counts tally with each other. The PPCRV, which was accredited by the Comelec as its citizen arm, was assigned to supervise the RMA. Seven precincts recommended for review In the same report, the technical working group also recommended to the Comelec the review of seven precincts in four different areas due to “large" differences between the automated and manual counts. In four precincts—one in Northern Samar, one in Basilan and two in Tarlac, the number of ballots manually counted by the BEIs did not tally with the total number of ballots counted by the precinct count optical scan (PCOS) machines, according to the report. In Pambujan town in Northern Samar, for example, only 718 were counted during the RMA, but the PCOS machines registered 742 ballots counted—a discrepancy of 24 ballots. The technical working group suggested to the Comelec to summon the BEIs and the RMA teams who conducted the manual counts in these areas to determine the reason behind the discrepancies. Two precincts in Mindanao— one in Lutayan town in Sultan Kudarat and another in Maluso town in Basilan— also need to be reviewed because of their very high numbers of “rejected ballots," the report said. Another precinct in the third district of Manila, meanwhile, had a vertical line that ran across portions of the scanned images of the ballots, which may have caused the large discrepancies in the automated and manual counts for the mayoralty position in the area. The technical working group said the Comelec should devote “action and attention" to these precincts to avoid similar incidents in the next elections. –VVP, GMANews.TV