Comelec plans to introduce internet voting in 2016 polls

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Wednesday, February 12, 2014

THE Commission on Elections (Comelec) is looking to introduce internet voting in the 2016 national and local polls.

Commissioner Lucenito Tagle, chairman of the poll body's Committee on Overseas Absentee Voting (COAV), said they are looking to utilize the internet technology in the next polls based on Republic Act (RA) 10590 or the amended Overseas Absentee Voting Act of 2013.

"This is the best way we can increase voter participation sa overseas absentee voting… that is why we want to pilot test this internet voting after we were authorized by this new law," he said.

If approved, those who will be able to use the new mode in voting are seafarers and those working in areas distant from Philippine embassies and consulates.

"As of now, there is about a 50-50 percent chance of us being able to conduct the internet voting pilot testing," he said.

Section 28 of RA 10590 provides that the commission "may 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."

In January 2007, the poll body had already approved the holding of OAV in Singapore using the internet voting system by employing the services of the Spain-based Scytl Technologies.

Under the system, voters will receive a pin code from election officers based in Singapore and will be able to access a list of voters via the net. After selecting their candidates, they will be able to toggle their choices if ever they wish to change them. Once sent, it will be impossible to change it again as it is deemed final.

But the Comelec decided to pull out the plan, a month later for fears of legal cases being filed against the internet voting system since it was not yet allowed by existing laws.

The poll body instead utilized personal voting in Philippine embassies and consulates as well as postal voting, while also introducing the PCOS machines in other foreign posts.

Tagle noted that they are already talking with Scytl representatives regarding the plan.

"As of now, there are no other companies presenting such a technology… only Scytl. But we are still open to presentations of others," he added.

The Comelec official said the commission en banc is looking to come up with a decision before the end of the year.

"We were also looking at introducing internet registration but it is already too late. We will just focus first on internet voting," he said.

Tagle said among the considerations are the availability of secure technologies as well as the funds. (FP/Sunnex)

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