Comelec to hold pilot tests on online voting
MANILA, Philippines–The Commission on Elections (Comelec) has announced its plan to pilot-test a scheme that will allow Filipinos abroad to cast their ballots through the Internet during the 2016 elections.
According to Commissioner Lucenito Tagle, chair of the Office for Overseas Voting, the commission was already looking at conducting the pilot test in areas in the Americas, the Middle East, Hong Kong and Singapore.
The move was in response to the Senate’s call for the election body to find a technology that will allow overseas absentee voting using the Internet.
“We are looking at these areas for pilot testing in 2016 [as] they have the adequate technology, Internet connection and large overseas Filipino concentration, which are needed for pilot-testing,” Tagle told reporters in an interview.
Over the weekend, Senate President Franklin Drilon urged the Comelec to “adopt all the necessary technologies” that will allow overseas Filipino voters to use the Internet in enlisting and voting in the 2016 presidential elections.
Currently, Filipino voters abroad cast their ballots through personal or postal voting in Philippine embassies and consulates.
The Comelec also recently introduced the use of the precinct count optical scan machines in Hong Kong, Riyadh and Jeddah in Saudi Arabia, Abu Dhabi, Singapore, Dubai and Kuwait.
Tagle said the commission has already conducted a study to find the adequate technology for Internet voting following the amendments made in the Overseas Absentee Voting (OAV) Act of 2013 or Republic Act No. 10590.
Under Section 28 of the law, the commission is allowed to “explore other more efficient, reliable and secure modes or systems, ensuring the secrecy and sanctity of the entire process, whether paper-based, electronic-based or Internet-based technology or such other latest technology available.”
But the Comelec official was quick to point out that the legislative division would have to immediately pass a measure that will enable the election body to use Internet technology for overseas voting in 2016.
“We still need their help to immediately pass a law that will allow us to use Internet-based technology for OAV… not to mention providing us the necessary budget to acquire the technology,” said Tagle.
In the absence of such measure, the Comelec can only explore the appropriate technology but not implement it, he noted.
“If everything goes well in 2016, we can already use the Internet for voting and probably for registration come the 2019 elections,” he said.