The Commission on Elections (Comelec) starts today the Random Manual Audit (RMA), a process required by the law to assure that the Vote Counting Machines used in Monday’s midterm elections were accurate in reporting the results of the election.
The Comelec randomly selected 715 polling precincts nationwide. Starting today and for the next two weeks, the Comelec and its citizen arm for this election, the Legal Network for Truthful Elections (LENTE), will manually count the votes cast in the 715 precincts. They expect to do 50 to 60 precincts a day.
The manual count will then be compared with the results spewed out by the voting machines last Monday.
Since automated elections began in 2010, there have been questions raised by some quarters about the accuracy of the poll counts, especially after seeming irregularities in remote parts of the country. Critics say the automated system, like any computer system, can be hacked and, therefore, interfered with.
Automated elections, some have pointed out, were stopped and declared unconstitutional in certain countries in Europe notably Germany and Netherlands, on the issue of transparency.
Despite these developments in certain nations abroad, the Philippines has maintained its confidence in automated elections, especially since these put an end to weeks and months of waiting for final results in national polls under the old system.
The manual count which starts today will show if indeed the voting machines have been tampered with to show results in favor of certain candidates. There may be some differences, as was shown in the ongoing poll protest case between former Senator Ferdinand Marcos Jr. and Vice President Leni Robredo, due to improper marking by some voters of circles opposite the candidates’ names.
“We will report what we see. Whatever the implication is, we will report what we see,” Comelec Commissioner Louie Tito Guia said.
If, at the end of the Radom Manual Audit process, there are there are corrections or adjustments that must be made, we are confident the Comelec will be equal to the task. The important thing is that the people’s faith is maintained in our automated elections, the heart of our democracy.