THE COMMISSION on Elections (Comelec) will hold a three-day trial run of the proposed online voting for overseas Filipinos starting Saturday, although the system will not be used until after the May 2022 elections. 

In a news briefing on Wednesday, Comelec Commissioner Maria Rowena Amelia V. Guanzon explained that the system cannot be used for the 2022 local and national polls as corresponding legislation is still needed for online voting.

The initial trial will use a system developed by US-based election technology firm Voatz, Inc.

If the test runs are successful, Ms. Guanzon said she has “no doubt that the senators and the congressmen and congresswomen will fully support the mobile app voting in the future.” The success of the test runs will be gauged based on efficiency, effectivity, security, access of voters, and cost of the whole process, she added.

Philip Luis F. Marin, Comelec’s lawyer for overseas voting, said 671 participants have been chosen for the first test run from Sept. 11 to 13.

Comelec Office for Overseas Voting Director Sonia Bea Wee-Lozada said two more test runs are scheduled in September with two other technology providers, Smartmatic and Indra Sistemas.

Smartmatic has been the Philippines’ technology provider for automated elections since 2010. Indra Sistemas is a Europe-based information technology company focused on electoral modernization.

Mr. Marin said Comelec will discuss with Smartmatic and Indra Sistemas if more slots for participants could be opened as registration for the three test runs had ended in June.

Ms. Guanzon said online voting for overseas Filipinos will lessen the expenses of the Comelec and the national government on courier service and transportation. “And the most important thing is that our overseas voters will have easier access to vote especially those who are seafarers and those who cannot leave work in order to vote.” 

Republic Act 9189 or the Overseas Voting Act of 2003 allows Comelec to explore electronic-based or internet-based technologies for onsite and remote registration and voting. — Bianca Angelica D. Añago