IN order to ensure that this year’s elections are clean and credible, Halalang Marangal (HALAL) or the Network of Citizens for Honest Elections and Truthful Statistics will conduct a citizens’ audit based on the precinct results of each voting station.

Sanlakas National President Wilson Fortaleza signs the HALAL covenantThe results will be stored in a database that will be made available to the public through the Internet, cellphones, and data CDs.

The citizens’ audit was launched today, as HALAL’s partners signed a covenant to participate in the audit.

HALAL co-convenor Roberto Verzola says that no group has ever put the precinct results online. By doing so, HALAL will enable ordinary citizens to audit the results by comparing the information on the database with the data from their precinct. “If these are identical, then anyone can confirm if the results in their precinct were properly counted in the final tally,” Verzola said in a statement.

He added that the precinct results were the closest to the truth, as vote-tampering often occurs in the municipal level.

View Verzola’s slide presentation.

Former poll commissioner Mehol Sadain agrees that the precinct count is the most accurate. He joined HALAL as a co-convenor after he retired from the Commission on Elections.

Sadain says that election fraud is multi-faceted, as cheating takes place from the pre-election period up to the post-proclamation stage.

During the pre-election period, voters’ lists may be tampered with, and ghost precincts may be created. After a candidate has been proclaimed the winner, ballots, election returns and certificates of canvass are often switched around in ballot boxes in order to cover up traces of fraud.

View Sadain’s slide presentation.

HALAL convenors Verzola, Sadain and TañadaIt is vital that the results of this year’s elections are credible, says HALAL chairman Wigberto Tañada. “Kung hindi magiging maayos, malinis katanggap-tanggap ang halalan, lalo tayong malulugmok. (If this year’s elections are not clean, peaceful and credible, we will become more backward.)”

Yet Tañada does not foresee a pleasant forecast for the upcoming elections, as President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo has yet to appoint the seventh poll commissioner.

HALAL will not focus on determining the total number of votes. Instead, it will upload the disaggregated results of each precinct. Right now HALAL is still working on building its network at the municipal level. The organization will need at least 260,000 volunteers in order to cover all of the precincts.

Verzola says that even if HALAL volunteers are unable to gather all the precinct results, citizens can still conduct an audit based on a percentage of the precinct results.

HALAL is also calling on other pollwatchers to put their precinct results online, so that anyone can audit their tallies.

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