PPCRV acquaints public with process of manually encoding ballots

May 14, 2013 10:11 pm 

MANILA, May 14 — In addition to tallying election votes via electronic count, the Parish Pastoral Council for Responsible Voting (PPCRV) was mandated by the Commission on Elections (Comelec) to also do it manually.

According to PPCRV Media and Communications Director, Ana Singson in a press conference on Tuesday, the electronic count was easily accessed because it was constantly updated and flashed on a large screen at the PPCRV center, but election returns audited manually were not.

“We audit it (votes) by manually encoding the pre-transmission data—the purest possible data that can come out of the PCOS (precinct count operating system) machines compared against the transmitted data shown all the time,” Singson said.

She also said that since voters do not actually see what happens after they leave the voting center, most of them are not aware of what the PCOS machines do to the ERs aside from the results being transmitted electronically.

The PCOS machines print eight copies of ERs, which have not yet gone through transmission. This will then be manually encoded twice first by a PPCRV volunteer and later by a trustee of PPCRV alongside a group of seminarians for verification.

“Once we are sure that the data is exactly what is in the ERs we send it back to the PPCRV server which is again compared to the data in the screen,” Singson stated.

“We are comparing the ERs before transmission with data that has been transmitted. If there was no manipulation done during transmission period, it should be the same,” she added.

Singson explained that data should be the same for both pre-transmitted and transmitted data if there were no intervention in ERs.

A total of 78, 166 PCOS machines print out ERs nationwide and they are shipped to the PPCRV. Once it comes in, encoders receive and verify if the ER is correct. After encoding, the ER is then picked up by one of the runners and brought to a second team of encoders.

“Double passes are done to make sure the data plug is correct,” Singson said, explaining the possibility of either the first or second team making a mistake or both.

“In that case, the numbers they plugged in will not be the same. We will know the ER has to be resolved by going to the senior verifiers,” she also said.

Final answer

For an ER to be considered ‘final’ or correct, both teams’ data should match. If it does not match, the computers will show that there is an error and the PPCRV will try again to resolve it.

“(If) there is an error in a particular PCOS, the computer will warn the encoders that it needs to be resolved. It will show highlighted data which are different,” Singson said, explaining that the ER will then be resolved by a group of seminarians and PPCRV trustees by correcting the data.

“What we are doing here is making sure that the people of the highest integrity are our last line of defense,” she added. “After it has been corrected it will be resubmitted and the computer will ask if it is the final entry. That particular ER is already resolved.”

Once ERs are all resolved, the data at this point, has been verified and has been passed thrice. Data finally gets thrown to the transparency server.

The server will compare the two and see if there were discrepancies or not. Electronically transmitted ERs and manually encoded ERs will again be compared and the server will decide whether they are the same or not.

If not, it is flagged in a final report that comes out in screens of the server. Once that happens and there is a difference, the discrepancy is fed to Comelec.

“It is not for PPCRV to explain (so) we send it to Comelec,” she said. “If there are differences it is PPCRV’s duty to allow the Comelec to provide this matter with justification. (PNA)



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