Monday, February 4, 2013

The Random Manual Audit


The highest error rate registered between the machine-counted and the RMA-appreciated votes is 16.67 percent. The lowest is -1.64 percent. The Commission on Elections (Comelec), through its machine supplier, Smartmatic, guarantees an error rate of 0.005 percent or less.

The photo is from a section of the Comelec’s RMA Minutes/Report (form No. 0916). The forth column (from the right) shows the variance between the machine-counted and the RMA team-appreciated results.

Positions Audited

The audit of the results of the precinct count optical scan (PCOS) machine was done for  40 senatorial posts, 15 district representatives posts, and 12 mayoral posts. Of the total 67 posts audited, 14 of these showed a variance.

Conduct of the RMA

At the close of the polling at 1900h on 02 February 2013, the board of election inspectors transmitted the results of the machine count to three servers, namely: the central server; to the canvassing board of Quezon city; and to the KBP server.  After which the ballot box was  resealed (with packing tape and signed by the board, to make tamper-evident). After the 27 copies of the election returns were printed, the board turned the ballot box over to the RMA team. This was around 2100h, and with the presence of observers and the media.

Immediately after opening the box, the team counted the ballots. They counted 159 in the box. But the election return showed that the machine counted 158 ballots. After a query by the observers and the media, the team revealed that there was one diagnostic ballot that was the first one fed into the machine before the voting started. This ballot was later identified as having a handwritten mark  “diagnostic”, and contained no votes on it.

One of the five-member board read the votes on the ballot, and the one seated beside him checked that the reading was correct. Two members recorded the votes on the audit returns. Another did the same using the tally board that was posted on the wall for the observers to track the progress of the counting.

Tallying of 67 posts from 158 ballots took five hours, with the RMA closed at 0200h the following day.

The audit was conducted after the mock polls held at the University of the Philippines Integrated School in Diliman, Quezon city.  The Philippine elections scheduled on 10 May 2013, will be the second such exercise where the PCOS of Smartmatic, Inc., will be used.

Photos (unannotated) of the RMA are available for download at this link:

(About the author: Telibert is a member of the national council of the National Citizens' Movement for Free Elections ( The organization was formed in 1983 and is recognized as the first in the world to field volunteer domestic election observers. He served as Namfrel's executive director from 1996 to 2003, and became a member of the board in 2009. He has served in various international assignments as election observer, organized similar domestic election observer groups in Afghanistan (2004) and in Timor Leste (2006). He has also served as resident country director in Timor Leste and in Papua New Guinea (2012) for the National Democratic Institute (

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