More vote auditors to be assigned in 2013

Reynaldo Santos Jr

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The Comelec will be assigning more auditors to manually count votes in select precincts nationwide hours after the automated midterm polls close on May 13

MANILA, Philippines – The Commission on Elections (Comelec) will be assigning more auditors to manually count votes in select precincts nationwide hours after the automated midterm polls close on May 13.

Based on Comelec Resolution 9595, which sets the guidelines for the random manual audit in this year’s elections, 5 members will compose the random manual audit team (RMAT) in each legislative district.

With legislative disticts now at 233, there will be a total of 1,165 manual auditors nationwide.

The poll body increased the number of RMATs this year, from 3 members each per legislative district in 2010 elections.

This year, the 5-member RMAT will be divided into two groups: 3 (chairman, secretary, 3rd member) will compose the Manual Count Group, and 2 (co-chairman, assistant secretary) will make up the Verification Group.

Just like in the 2010 elections, public teachers will be tapped to comprise each RMAT. The Department of Education (DepEd) submitted until January 15 a list of 6 teachers (1 to serve as substitute) who would constitute the RMAT in each district. Each teacher will be given an honorarium of P2,000.

Also, the resolution states that the municipalities involved in the RMA would be identified 4 days before the election. Specific clustered precincts that will undergo the RMA will be revealed 2 days before the election.

Manual count vs election returns

The Comelec stated that these new guidelines will be also used in subsequent elections.

For the midterm elections in May, the poll body designates an RMA Committee, which is headed by the following:

  • Parish Pastoral Council for Responsible Voting (PPCRV) head Henrietta de Villa, chairperson
  • Comelec Commissioner Christian Lim, commissioner-in-charge

The RMA shall be conducted immediately after the Board of Election Inspectors (BEIs) seal the ballot boxes after the voting at 7 pm on May 13.

In a midterm election, only votes for senators, representatives, and mayors will be manually counted. In a presidential election, votes for those 3 positions, as well as those for president, vice president, and governors.

The RMAT will manually count the votes in the ballots and see if their total count will correspond to the tally provided in the election return (ER) to be generated by the vote counting machines

In case of discrepancy

“In case the number of votes counted by the RMAT does not match the number of votes found in the Election Returns, the Chairman shall record such discrepancy in the RMA Minutes while the Third Member shall refer to the Minutes of Testing and Sealing and the Minutes of Voting and Counting for any possible reason for such discrepancy – i.e. rejected or spoiled ballots. The Co-Chairman and Assistant Secretary shall review the Manual Count in order to exclude the possibility of human error,” the poll body said in the resolution.

The team will also check and take note of overvotes and improper shading of ballots.

In the event of discrepancy between the random manual audit in the ER, an allowable margin of 10 votes per candidate per position has been granted. If it exceeds, the team will do a recount and record the activity. 

Afterwards, the team will accomplish 6 copies of Audit Returns. One will be deposited inside the ballot box, while the rest will be sent to the following:

  • Records and Statistics Division (RSD) of the Election Records and Statistics Department (ERSD) of the Comelec main office
  • the RMA Committee, which will later forward it to the RSD
  • dominant majority political party (Liberal Party)
  • dominant minority political party (United Nationalist Alliance)
  • accredited citizen’s arm group –

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