HALALANG MARANGAL PRESS STATEMENT (May 14, 2010)
Why is the random audit taking too long?
Halalang Marangal (HALAL) is alarmed that the random manual audit is taking too long, and that results in those precincts where the audit is finished are not being made public immediately. A precinct audit should only take at most half a day, after which its results should be immediately transmitted to the audit committee and simultaneously made public. Any delay will fuel fears about discrepancies being covered up and will make the audit process less credible.
The random manual audit is the only remaining chance we have to determine the error rate of the PCOS machines that counted our votes on May 10. Without knowing the error rate, we do not know how trustworthy the machine counts and, by extension, the election outcomes are.
Our four other chances to determine the machines’ error rate have been taken away from us:
1.)The results of Comelec acceptance tests, which should have included tests for machine error rates, remain confidential.
2.)The Systest Labs test results, which should also include machine error rates, also remain confidential.
3.)Three days before election day, a final testing should have established that the machines make zero error when counting the votes in ten ballots. Instead, the machines showed errors so glaring that the Comelec cancelled the tests. In the confusion and mad rush to reconfigure the machines in time for May 10, we are not sure if every machine passed the ten-ballot test.
4.)On election day, a voter verification feature in the machine should have shown the voter if his choices were correctly registered, but the Comelec disabled this feature.
Thus the May 10 elections were held using PCOS machines whose error rates have not been made public. Today, we still have no idea of the error rates of these machines.
Yet, the Comelec has been prematurely proclaiming winners based on the results issued by these unaudited machines, without waiting for the audit findings. We are only a few days past the May 10 elections and the terms of office of outgoing officials end on June 30 yet. Why the rush?
Instead of enhancing its credibility, the audit committee has been undermining it by:
1) announcing the precincts to be audited at noon time of election day, forewarning cheats who could then immediately order their field operators to stay away from these precincts;
2) taking a long time to finish the audit, devaluing the audit for each day of delay, because cheats get an increasing chance to influence the audit results; and
3) not immediately making public the results from finished precinct audits.
The longer the committee takes to make the results public, the greater the public fear will be of a cover up.
HALAL urges the audit committee to make public audit results as soon as these become available and to finish the audit as soon as possible. HALAL also urges the Comelec not to rush the proclamation of machine winners until the audit and the issues arising from the discrepancies it finds have been fully resolved.
Reference: Roberto Verzola, Secretary-general, HALAL (Tel. 0929-856-1930)