Computer results were flawed- EAB
March 24, 1998
Tests by the Electoral Assistance Bureau EAB) of computer results issued by the Elections Commission following the December 15 elections threw up numerous flaws and deficiencies.
In its report issued last week, the EAB noted that two methods were employed by the Commission to deliver results: the one required by law in which all information is forwarded to the Chief Election Officer (CEO) for aggregation and the computer compilation which was conceived by the Commission as a refinement of the legal process.
EAB said that the results garnered by its 571 observers were checked against a document dated Dec 19, 1997 entitled `All Boxes In and Out' which emanated from the computer-based compilation.
"EAB's analysis of the computer results revealed numerous flaws and inaccuracies", the report said.
*Numerous cases were discerned where two polling subdivisions had the same results.
*Cases were seen where the results of one division were listed for another division.
*Some results comprised the national and regional votes added up. *There were mix-ups in ballot boxes. For e.g. one box originally intended for one division was used for another. This could have led to incorrect results being entered for ballot boxes.
It was the computer tabulations of results which were first issued by the Elections Commission after December 15 and these had caused some consternation.
Despite the flaws, in the computer results, the EAB was able to conduct other tests of the Returning Officers' (ROs) results to the CEO to determine whether they approximated to the EAB's own results.
In one of these tests, the 750 results garnered by the EAB were compared with the box-by-box results tendered by the 10 ROs to the CEO. The EAB obtained these figures only on February 9.
The analysis showed that 614 of the results were exactly the same, there were differences in 136 cases with five of these being insignificant and only one being inexplicable.
The EAB acknowledged that this test was subject to uncontrollable but minor errors, a major portion of which stemmed from the interchange of general and regional results.
"Both election officials and EAB's own observers were guilty of this lapse, and with good reason. All Statements of Poll forms received by Presiding Officers were for general results only... No forms were provided specifically for recording Regional results", the report noted.
Officials therefore had to record regional results by deleting the word general from the form and sometimes this was not done.
Two aggregation tests were also done to check the official results. One of these entailed tabulating the detailed results submitted by each of the 10 ROs to the CEO - since these figures were used for the final official results - to determine their accuracy.
The EAB found that only in Regions 1 and 8 was the summing up of votes accurate for all 10 contestants. In Region 4, all 10 additions were incorrect, Region 10 had one error, Region 7 had two errors, Regions 5 and 9 three errors each, Region 3 four errors, Region 2 six errors and Region 6 seven errors.
The differences in computation were not however significant.
The EAB has said that the December 15 elections were the best in three decades and has backed the official results released by the CEO.