Comelec reports 52% voter turnout in internet voting test run among overseas Filipinos

Aileen Cerrudo   •   September 13, 2021   •   303

 

MANILA, Philippines — The Commission on Elections (Comelec) reported a 52% voter turnout during the internet voting pilot test run for overseas Filipinos.

In a press briefing, Comelec – Office for Overseas Voting (OFOV) Director Sonia Bea Wee-Lozada said 669 test voters were qualified for the 2-day pilot test. However, only 402 individuals of the eligible voters underwent the verification process. Of the 402, only 348 or 52.01% actually voted.

“This 402 were verified test voters. Meaning, these voters were the ones who were able to successfully go through the voter verification process, downloaded the app, uploaded a copy of their identification document, and get the selfie camera,” Lozada said.

She added that the poll body is currently assessing the outcome of the test run.

“We will still have to go over the feedback the other from the test voters as well as the audit portion which we will plan after this session. We will plan to look into the auditability of the system and we also encouraged test voters to confirm and used the confirmation ID that they’ve received,” she said.

Based on the initial assessment, Lozada said that the process of internet voting, based on the test run, was efficient.

“I think it is efficient in the sense that it did not take off the time as compared to how you would do voting traditionally. Like if you would do it like we are doing the Philippines which in-person system you have to wake early beat the line, falling in line, travel early to your polling center, line up,” she said.

She said the turnout is promising since OFOV has never reached 50 percent turnout during the actual polls.

“This is for me, for someone who has looked at the historical figures for overseas voting in the Philippines, this looks promising because traditionally, we never go beyond 50 percent when it comes to voters actually voted for overseas voting,” she said.

American firm Voatz, Inc. reported that there were several problems encountered during the voting process, including connectivity problems, SMS not received/delayed, voting instructions going to the spam folder, or some ID types not accepted.

“The number one support request was related voters were unable to upload pictures of their voter ID and a selfie. Some people were having delays because of the slowness of their network or their devices, so they keep trying and eventually succeed,” said Nimit Sawhney
CEO and Co-Founder of Voatz, Inc.

Comelec said that it will conduct another internet voting test run with another service provider on Wednesday (Sept. 15). The results will be submitted to Congress which will be used in drafting laws for the next elections. AAC (with reports from Dante Amento)

COMELEC to provide free online campaign airtime for 2022 national bets

Robie de Guzman   •   January 14, 2022

MANILA, Philippines — The Commission on Elections (COMELEC) said it has launched an official platform that will provide free live streaming of e-rallies of national candidates for the 2022 national and local elections.

In a news release, the COMELEC said the platform, called Campaign S.A.F.E COMELEC e-Rally Channel, will provide e-rally airtime to all bona fide candidates for President, Vice President, Senator, and party-list organizations.

Each candidate for president and vice president will be granted 10-minute airtime for each of three slots in a night, while Senate candidates will be given three minutes for every five slots a night.

Party-list groups will be provided with three minutes each for five slots per night while political parties will have 10 minutes each for three slots.

The poll body said the platform will begin the live streaming by February 8, 2022, when the campaign period for national candidates starts.

“The COMELEC is set to release a schedule of e-rally timeslots for each elective position. Beginning February 8, 2022, live streaming of e-rallies will be conducted every night on the official social media channels of the COMELEC,” it said.

“Every night, there shall be three presidential and three vice-presidential 10-minute slots, and 10 party-list 3-minute slots,” it added.

COMELEC spokesperson James Jimenez said the commission will issue the pertinent guidelines on how the candidates and party-list organizations can participate in the e-rally channel.

“This platform can help ensure that even those candidates who have less in followers can still have more in views and exposure, so to speak,” he added.

COMELEC eyes release of final list of 2022 poll bets on January 15

Robie de Guzman   •   January 13, 2022

MANILA, Philippines – The Commission on Elections (COMELEC) is eyeing to release the final list of candidates for the May 2022 national and local elections by Saturday, January 15.

COMELEC Spokesperson James Jimenez said they are also hoping to start the printing of official ballots by January 17.

Based on the poll body’s latest tentative list of candidates, there are 10 presidential aspirants for the upcoming elections.

The list includes former Palace Spokesperson Ernesto Abella, Labor Leader Leody de Guzman, Manila Mayor Francisco “Isko Moreno” Domagoso, Former Defense Secretary Norberto Gonzales, Senator Panfilo Lacson, Senator Manny Pacquiao, Faisal Mangondato, Jose Montemayor, former Senator Ferdinand Marcos Jr., and Vice President Leni Robredo.

Meanwhile, nine aspirants remain in the vice presidential race, while 64 are vying for a senate seat.

COMELEC exec denies data breach report

Robie de Guzman   •   January 12, 2022

MANILA, Philippines – An official from the Commission on Elections (COMELEC) on Wednesday labeled as fake news a newspaper report claiming that the poll body’s servers were hacked and its sensitive data were compromised.

In a tweet, COMELEC Commissioner Rowena Guanzon denied the report published by Manila Bulletin that hackers allegedly broke into COMELEC servers and downloaded 60 gigabytes worth of data.

“Fake news: @COMELEC server was hacked, not true. Manila Bulletin editor must verify,” she said.

The Manila Bulletin on Monday reported that its TechNews team has information about the supposed hacking that took place over the weekend. An estimated 60 gigabytes of data, which possibly contained personal information and sensitive personal information, were allegedly accessed and downloaded by a certain group of hackers.

COMELEC spokesperson James Jimenez earlier questioned the veracity of the report and invited the authors to shed light on their allegations, particularly on the verification process they supposedly carried out to confirm the alleged incident.

The National Privacy Commission has ordered COMELEC, Manila Bulletin, and Mr. Art Samaniego to appear for a clarificatory meeting via teleconference on January 25 on the alleged hacking and data breach incident.

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