Higher turnout on Comelec’s second internet voting test run

    The Commission on Elections (Comelec) registered a higher voter turnout in its second test run conducted over the weekend—8am of 18 September until 8am of 20 September 2021.

    MANILA — Test voters flocked to technology provider Smartmatic’s web-based platform over the weekend to participate in the Comelec’s voting test run, which is the second out of three.

    The voters for this round of tests was around 64 percent, according to Sonia Bea Wee-Lozada, Comelec’s Office of Overseas Voting (OFOV).

    “Compared to last week’s internet voting activity, we experienced a slightly higher voter turnout this time,” Ms Wee-Lozada said.

    Also, the initial activity drew 348 participants out of 669 total test voters, while the second activity drew 426 participants, she said.

    Smartmatic’s platform, known as Trust Innovation Verifiability Integrity (TIVI), can be accessed via any web browser, making the voting system accessible to smartphones and computers alike. A unique code via email was sent to each voter, and upon receipt, they can immediately access the system. This simplified process led to only ten voters having signup issues. This, however, meant that there were fewer identity verification safeguards for the voters.

    Smartmatic product manager Armando Torres Chong stated, “We believe that including less tools between the voter and the electoral system is the best approach. That is why we worked in a web application. In that way, we ensure that it’s the same voting experience while using any of the devices.”

    Smartmatic has been the country’s automated elections system provider since 2010. The Comelec has stressed that they will await the results of the third trial before jumping to any conclusions.

    “Whether or not a purely browser-based approach is something that would be better or something we would recommend in Congress, is still too early to say at this point,” said Ms Wee-Lozada.

    The first test run was conducted by the American mobile voting firm Voatz, which was held on 11 to 13 September 2021. The final test run will be conducted by Indra Sistemas, a Spanish information tech company, which will be held this weekend 25 to 26 September.

    The Overseas Voting Act of 2003 states that the Comelec is authorized to explore internet-based technologies for overseas voting. A new law might have to be passed, however, to push the Comelec’s intention to offer online voting to Filipinos abroad for the 2025 elections. (RF/The MiNT)

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