Even if all is well with the random manual audit, a ghost precinct mode of cheating can still escape detection.
There is a remedy.
Each independent watchdog agency (PPCRV, KBP, ABS-CBN) is reportedly prepared to do a precinct-by-precinct re-coded input of the election returns of each and every PCOS machine.
Any discrepancy between an existing PCOS machine’s result at the Comelec site and at the watchdog site will be obvious. So, it is hoped, no one will try to cheat there.
But what happens if a ghost precinct can transmit a result to the Comelec server. Obviously, this requires an “inside job,” or if not, a hacker route.
All is not lost. There are only some 76, 300 real precinct machines. Each will have unique election return data attached to it. Line by line (or row by row) watchdogs should be able to ensure integrity as between the Comelec server and the watchdog counts.
If still there is a discrepancy, the doctrine of res ipsa loquitur arises. Such a discrepancy is amazingly unusual, and the burden of explaining will have to fall on Comelec. If it cannot or will not explain, then the discrepancy proves a failure of elections (this is fraud and is an analogous reason, as reasoned by the constitutionalist Fr. Bernas). The failure may be partial, as there are good reasons to theorize that partial dagdag-only is tempting to some cheating party-list and other candidates where the expectations are for a close race.
The twist here is that the honest-but-losing candidate thinks his vote was counted correctly, but the cheating-but-winning candidate winks his way to happiness because of the ghost transmission.
One obvious remedy is to ask for a precinct-by-precinct breakdown for “winning” candidates that losers can examine for precincts that do not exist. Of course, if Comelec/Smartmatic-TIM insiders are aware that this discrepancy can be discovered in this manner, they may tell the would-be cheat that the conspiracy is a “no go.” Prevention is better than cure, so each candidate in a tight race should insist on an audit if the data base of Comelec contains data from more than the official number of precincts. (Although this is not in the minutiae of the automation law, it is certainly in the Omnibus Election Code which somewhere defines a failure of election as due to fraud and “other analogous reasons.” A Comelec server with rows of data for more than the official number of precincts is an obvious give-away.)
Happy elections folks!