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Audit logs are not placed inside ballot boxes —ex-Comelec commissioner


Election laws state that paper audit logs must be submitted to election officers and not placed inside ballot boxes, according to an interview on Tuesday with a former Commission on Elections (Comelec) commissioner.

"Ang printout, the procedure is that 'yung teachers, dapat ibigay 'yan sa election officer. Hindi dapat ilagay sa ballot box 'yan. Dapat ibigay sa election officer," Atty. Gregorio Larrazabal said on Dobol B sa News TV.

Vote-counting machines (VCMs) record all of their activities on audit logs, including the opening and closing times of precincts and the times when votes are fed into the machine.

"If you want to check kung anong activities sa presinto, kung tama ba sa experiences ng mga tao," Larrazabal said. "It's like a black box."

Soft copies of audit logs, stored in each VCM's SD cards, are kept by the Comelec's central office.

"Kung sabihin ng election officer, nawawala po 'yung audit logs, pwede pong mag-print out du'n. Mag-request ka lang sa Comelec, sa main office, as long as may approval ng en banc, they will print out an audit log for you," Larrazabal said.

He said Senator Vicente Sotto III's claims of an early transmission can be counter-checked with audit logs, but Comelec must also clarify if test transmissions were conducted a day before the May 9 elections.

Former senator and vice presidential candidate Ferdinand "Bongbong" Marcos Jr. claimed ballot boxes had to be opened for there to be "missing" audit logs in Camarines Sur.

"They should have requested a copy of the audit log from the election officer," Larrazabal said. "Kung hindi, mag-request ka sa main office para mag-print out sila para sa inyo ng bagong audit log na exact copy sa print-out."

Election lawyer Romulo Macalintal, lawyer for Vice President Leni Robredo, said in an interview on Unang Balita on Tuesday that audit logs were submitted to election officers and not placed inside ballot boxes.

In another interview on Unang Balita, Marcos lawyer Atty. Rodriguez insisted that Macalintal meant the soft copy of the audit logs and not the printed version.

"What he was referring to is, probably, ay 'yung SD card. 'Yung SD card nasa Commission on Elections," he said.

Wet ballots

One of two things Rodriguez said their camp is monitoring is the difference in the printed ballots — some of which they claimed were found wet and unreadable — and the ballot images stored in the VCMs.

Larrazabal explained that storage of ballot boxes after the elections may not have been optimal after custody of the storage units were transferred to municipal or city treasurers.

"Iba-iba 'yung pinaglagyan nila. Ang sinabi nilang nabasa — I think they should check kung bakit nabasa," he said.

The only disadvantage of using stored ballot images of ballots that have been physically damaged is VCMs do not keep records of rejected ballots, which are kept in separate envelopes.

"Wala nang digital ballot images 'yan; you cannot claim ballot rigging sa rejected ballots kasi sa revision of ballots, one of the key elements there is magke-claim ka ng ballots that were rejected as your own," Larrazabal said.

Because disputed ballots are evaluated individually in every precinct, the projected time frame for the revision of ballots for Marcos' three disputed districts will take five months.

The entire process of the manual recount is estimated to take at least a year.

Undervoting

Another element the Marcos camp is observing is the alleged undervoting for the son of former dictator Ferdinand Marcos.

Undervoting occurs when a voter does not vote for certain positions or votes for more than the number of candidates for a position.

Some voters, Larrazabal said, may have accidentally undervoted by failing to completely shade the oval next to their chosen candidate.

He added that election history showed a trend of undervoting for certain positions, including the vice presidency.

"The statistics is that it's twice the number of undervotes for vice president, vice governor, and vice mayor as compared for mayor," Larrazabal said.

"For example, 5 percent undervotes for the President, there should be about 10 percent undervote for the vice president, that's the statistics before," he continued.

Larrazabal said the high statistics cited by the Marcos camp should not be disregarded and must be checked against ballot images.

Ballot images have interpretation of votes on their backs and have immediate reports if ballots are interpreted incorrectly by VCMs. —Rie Takumi/KG, GMA News

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