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Internet voting for Filipinos overseas pushed

/ 03:40 PM September 17, 2014
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Overseas voting registrants await their turn at the Philippine Consulate in San Francisco. INQUIRER.net FILE PHOTO

MANILA, Philippines—It is now up to Congress to again amend the law to specifically allow Internet voting for Filipinos who are abroad, the elections chief said on Wednesday.

Commission on Elections (Comelec) chairman Sixto Brillantes Jr. said the poll body plans to draft a resolution for the use of the Internet for overseas absentee voting (OAV).

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He said the OAV law or Republic Act 9189 only allows voting and registration personally in the embassy, consulate or other foreign service establishments.

While it does not allow Internet voting, the law only allows voting by mail.

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The original law was amended by Republic Act 10590, a supposedly fine-tuned law that could improve the usually dismal turnout in overseas elections.

But the new law did not specifically cite Internet-voting as a method of casting the ballot, only mandating the Comelec to explore “other (voting) systems” whether paper- or Internet-based.

Brillantes said a resolution for Internet voting may be questioned because the law does not allow it.

“Baka kailangan kasi ng batas amending the existing law because the manner of voting in the overseas doesn’t allow Internet kaya dapat may amendatory law,” Brillantes said.

(The law might need an amendatory law because it does not allow internet voting.)

Comelec is looking at Internet-voting or casting the ballot through a website or e-mail to solve the problem of low turnout overseas. Distance of the polling center has been the common complaint among overseas voters.

“The allowed actual system of voting is you go to the embassy or the consulate to personally vote,” Brillantes said.

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Brillantes said the poll body will also have to resolve the security of ballots in Internet voting.

“The problem in Internet or online voting is the security. You don’t know who is voting,” he added.

The OAV turnout is at 16 percent turnout during the 2013 elections, significantly down from 25.99 percent in the 2010 elections.

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TAGS: comelec, Features, Global Nation, Internet, Overseas Absentee Voting, Republic Act 9189
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