May 292013
Poll chief Sixto Brillantes Jr. on Wednesday said “variances” is a better term for the disparities spotted in the random manual count of votes instead of “discrepancies.”

In a newspaper report, Brillantes was quoted as saying there were “discrepancies” between the random manual count and the machine-generated election results. The poll body has reportedly received 167 of the 234 randomly chosen precincts for the manual audit.

“The correct term should have been, there were variances, which would actually be a toning down of a discrepancy,” Brillantes corrected himself at a press briefing on Wednesday.

He added that his earlier statements were based on initial reports.

Brillantes noted, too, that a random manual count is not expected to perfectly match the machine-generated results.

He said the precinct count optical scan (PCOS) machine still reads the ballots even when the shading only covers 20 percent of the oval.

Meanwhile, the auditors have their own “discretion” whether or not to audit the partially shaded ballots, Brillantes added.

In the 2010 elections, the PCOS was programmed to read ovals shaded only 50 percent.

“It could not be a perfect thing between the manual count and the machine count…  Ang tao hindi na-poprogram ang mata niyan, may kanya kanyang discretion, iba-iba ang assessment,” he said.

“Pero talaga namang alam nila na hindi magta-tally ang machine count sa human visual count, may thresholding ‘yan eh,” Brillantes added, referring to the incomplete shading of the ballot.

Still, Brillantes maintained the result of the manual audit so far is not a cause for alarm.

Henrietta De VIlla, chairperson of accredited citizens’ arm Parish Pastoral Council for Responsible Voting (PPCRV), heads the Comelec random manual committee. She could not be immediately reached for comment.

The committee is expected to match the printed ballots from selected precincts with the PCOS-generated election results, which are in the form of receipts.

A random manual audit is required under Section 24 of Republic Act 9369 of the Automated Elections System Law that states that where 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.

The poll body had selected 234 priority cities and municipalities and 234 contingency areas where the manual counts were to be conducted. — LBG, GMA News

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