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Comelec to conduct random audit in 715 clustered precincts

A random manual audit (RMA) will be done on a total of 715 clustered precincts as part of preparations for the forthcoming May polls, said the Commission on Elections (Comelec).

Comelec Commissioner Luie Guia said the number of precincts is higher than those subjected to RMA in 2013, which is 234.

“We have started with the preparations for the RMA. And there will be more precincts for the RMA in 2016,” said Guia, who heads the Comelec – RMA Committee (RMAC).

He said that under the present process, there will be some legislative districts that will have more clustered precincts set for RMA than others.

The official said the poll body decided to increase the number of clustered precincts subject to RMA to ensure that there will be minimal “margin of error” in the audit.

“If there will be more precincts, the margin of error will be smaller. We were told that having about 700 precincts for audit is already enough to represent the entire population, the 92,000 precincts. As long as it is random,” Guia explained.

Section 29 of the Poll Automation law provides that “there shall be a random manual audit in one precinct per congressional district randomly chosen by the Commission”.

The RMA is the process that will be used to determine if there is any difference between the automated and manual count of votes.

A difference, according to the law, will result in the determination of the root cause and initiate a manual count for the precincts affected by the computer or procedural error.

“The RMA is important because it will assure the public that the machines will count the votes correctly,” said Guia.

For the 2013 polls, the RMAC reported that the Precinct Count Optical Scan (PCOS) machines had a 99.97 percent accuracy rate after finding only 237 variances in the 1,016,860 votes audited.

Meanwhile, the National Citizens' Movement for Free Elections (NAMFREL) will assist in the RMA for the May 2016 polls.

During the last elections, it was the Parish Pastoral Council for Responsible Voting (PPCRV) the conducted the audit. — BAP, GMA News