EXPLAINER: What PPCRV volunteers do after May 9 polls

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, May 12) — Church-based poll watchdog Parish Pastoral Council for Responsible Voting (PPCRV) has been actively helping the Commission on Elections in the conduct of a free, fair, and fraud-free elections since it was first named its citizens' arm.

Apart from its voter education initiatives, the PPCRV also helps ensure election results are accurate through a parallel vote count once the partial and unofficial results come in.

"To explain to the public, what we are doing is to answer that ever-big question and doubt in their mind, 'what happens to my ballot after I stick it into the VCM (vote-counting machine)?' Nobody sees that right?" PPCRV chair Myla Villanueva told CNN Philippines' The Source on Thursday.

"So to alleviate and assuage that concern, this process in UST (University of Santo Tomas) is assuring that no dagdag-bawas [cheating] is happening. There was not a hack and things are as it should be," she added.

The PPCRV is entitled to the fourth copy of the transmitted election returns from the VCMs. Results are manually encoded to check if these match with the electronic results from the Comelec transparency server.

Villanueva estimates at least 500,000 people have volunteered to work with the PPCRV in this year's polls. Volunteers are vetted carefully at the community level. These people must be non-partisan and must at least be vaccinated, she added.

"But at this time, the election is over. In fact I would love for even political parties to come in, sit down and encode so they’ll appreciate the process," Villanueva said.

Different people are assigned to manually receive, sort, encode, and review data that come from the election returns. Even the encoding process is checked twice to ensure accuracy. All these are being done at the UST-Quadricentennial Pavilion.

The PPCRV has also invited mathematicians and statisticians from different universities to look into supposed anomalies in the poll results, she shared. No irregularities were found so far.

While the group does not have all the resources to accomplish everything as fast as they can, "it's the spirit of the volunteers that make all this happen," Villanueva said.

The watchdog continues to host volunteers on a daily basis. They help in the manual audit of over 106,000 copies of election returns from different precincts after polls closed on Monday.

Volunteers are free to choose their preferred schedule, but the organization needs more manpower during the graveyard shift.

"I think our young people and our volunteers should appreciate — we take it for granted that we know the election results in a day. It used to be 30 days. It used to be very violent," she said. "I think we should share the good improvements also of our elections."

About 22% of the manual election returns have already been received as of Thursday, Villanueva said. They are set to release within the day the match rate between physical and electronic results. The group hopes to finish auditing results by the weekend.

In 2019, the election returns that they verified matched the data in the transparency server by 99.98%.