The Commission on Elections, along with the Philippine Statistics Authority and accredited citizens’ arms have started a random manual audit to determine the accuracy of vote counting machines used in the recent barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan elections.
Included in the RMA are Lente (Legal Network for Truthful Elections), PPCRV (Parish Pastoral Council for Responsible Voting), and Namfrel (National Citizens' Movement for Free Elections).
Three ballot boxes that were randomly picked, one from each of the three sites for the pilot test of the automated polls, are being examined.
Verifiers are checking if the number of votes in the election receipts match the number of votes on the ballots.
“Diyan po malalaman kung effective, accurate ‘yung mga makina na ginagamit natin sa araw ng eleksyon," Comelec Chairman George Garcia said.
Atty. Helen Maureen Graido of LENTE added they do not intend to confirm the results in the conduct of RMA.
“Kung merong discrepancy, kung may pagkakaiba sa pagbasa ng mata at pagbasa ng makina, i-report doon sa mismong resulta ng Random Manual Audit. So ang pinaka-action niya is really for notification,” Graido said.
A discrepancy in vote may be a basis for the filing of an election protest, according to Garcia.
“Sabihin mo na na may question ka sa kahit anong parte ng proseso, ang pinaka-best evidence pa rin ang balota. Ang balota na nasa ballot boxes ang magsasabi kung tama ang ating nabilang, kung tama ang ating na-proklama,” he stated.
Results of the RMA are expected within the day.
In preparation for the 2025 midterm elections, COMELEC has conducted the pre-bid conference where potential bidders were able to ask questions about the contract for the automated election system.
One of the items that need to be supplied are new machines that will replace vote counting machines.
Three companies have purchased bidding documents: Smartmatic, Miru Systems, Co. Ltd., and Pivot International.
The Commission en banc is still deliberating the petition to disqualify Smartmatic from participating in the 2025 elections, which was filed by former DICT Acting Secretary Eliseo Rio, Jr.’s group.
Garcia hopes more companies will join the bidding, “Sana more than five ang mag-participate kasi mas madaming choices, mas maganda para sa Commission.”
Next week, the poll body will organize the Comelec Advisory Council.
“Napaka-importante po ng Advisory Council na 'yan sapagkat alam niyo hindi po dapat sinasarili at sarilinin lang ng Comelec yong pamo-mroblema tungkol sa pag-automate ng ating national and local election. Dapat may mga kaakibat po tayong mga ahensya ng pamahalaan at mga civil society organizations,” Garcia explained.
Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT) Secretary Ivan Uy will head the Advisory Council.