How Comelec makes sure vote-counting machines are accurate during elections

Vote counting machine provided by Smartmatic in this undated file photo. (The STAR/Edd Gumban)

The Philippines practices an automated election system but there is still a process of examination done to determine if vote counting machines are accurate.

This process is called random manual audit or RMA.

This is when the person determines whether the automated count of the vote-counting machines (VCM) under an automated election system (AES) is accurate based on manual count.

The law states that when AES is used, “there shall be a random manual audit in one precinct per congressional district randomly chosen by the Commission in each province and city.”

“Any difference between the automated and manual count will result in the determination of root cause and initiate a manual count for those precincts affected by the computer or procedural error,” it said.

For the elections, the Commission on Election said that the RMA teams comprise qualified public school teachers who were chosen by the Department of Education.

They will be accompanied by verifiers and supervisors on the audit floor. The verifiers are Certified Public Accountants, while the supervisors are assigned to administrative and logistical requirements on the audit floor.

“Ang mga miyembro ng RMA Teams ay pinili base sa kanilang mga kakayahan at katangian na naaayon sa mga nakatalang qualifications sa batas,” the poll body said.

RMA 101 

Former Comelec commissioner Luie Tito Guia said that RMA is a procedure in which the precinct results are compared to the votes that the eye can read.

He said that Comelec would choose precincts in the country, count the votes there manually and compare them against the automated count.

Guia added that the results of the RMA are not the official result and that it only compares the vote counts.

If disparities are seen, RMA will refer its results to the technical evaluation team so that the differences will be reconciled.

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