THE Random Manual Audit (RMA) showed that the Automated Election System (AES) has 99.60 percent accuracy especially in the presidential, vice presidential, congressional, gubernatorial, and mayoral races.

Henrietta de Villa, head of the RMA Team, said variance for the count in the presidential race was 0.49, vice presidential race 0.40, while the combined variance for the local posts was 0.37.

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Variance refers to the difference in the machine count and in the audit results conducted by teacher called by the poll body to examine the ballots. The RMA was conducted in 1,145 clustered precincts after the May 10 polls.

De Villa, who also chairs the Parish Pastoral Council for Responsible Voting (PPCRV), asked the Commission on Elections (Comelec) to prepare for the conduct of the next elections.

Among the recommendations of the RMA Team are the inclusion of the RMA in the budget for the elections; for the permanent setting of a standard number of precincts to be audited; more studies on the proper methodology to be used in the audit; better technical features on auditing in the voting machines; and a wider public information of the audit process.

The group also recommended the printing of an understandable RMA handbook, integration of auditor training in the regular training of Board of Election Inspector members, and the early designation of the members of the RMA-TWG.

"We would recommend that in the next AES, sana may longer time for preparation," De Villa said.

On the other hand, the RMA has boosted the confidence of the Comelec to further implement the AES.

"Automation is here to stay. As long as we have the money, we will automate," Comelec Chairman Jose Melo.

Melo also noted the high satisfaction rating received by the automated elections as reported by Social Weather Station (SWS) survey.

"I think the people, generally, will want to have automation. Hindi na tayo pwede magbalik pa sa manual," he said.

The SWS survey conducted on the June 25-28 revealed that 75 percent of the 1,200 respondents were satisfied with how the national and local elections were handled.

The result was a huge jump from the previous two elections in 2004 and 2007, wherein only 53 percent and 51 percent, respectively, of the survey participants expressed satisfaction with the polls. (FP/Sunnex)