MANILA, Philippines – The Commission on Elections (COMELEC) announced it has signed a memorandum of agreement (MOA) with two internet voting providers as part of its preparations for the conduct of the live test runs of its internet voting systems.
In a statement, COMELEC said the internet voting test runs form part of the commission’s “exploratory study of internet-based technologies for possible use in internet voting.”
The test run is third phase of the implementation plan, which will involve the actual test voting activity, the poll body said.
According to Rowena Guanzon, commissioner-in-charge for overseas voting, the test runs, which come at no cost to the Commission, will begin in July.
“This exploratory test use of a mobile app for overseas voters is groundbreaking, and the results will have a significant and valuable impact on how elections may be conducted in the future,” Guanzon said in the same statement.
Test voters who previously signified interest and have given their consent will participate in a mock election using the solutions providers’ apps or platforms.
The final call for participants in the test runs will end on June 25 at 5 p.m., COMELEC said.
“We call on registered overseas voters who have active and complete voter registration record to sign up and be part of this important activity,” said Director Sonia Bea Wee-Lozada from the Office for Overseas Voting (OFOV).
Vice commissioner-in-charge for overseas voting Antonio T. Kho, Jr. inked the deal for COMELEC.
Comelec executive director Bartolome Sinocruz, Jr. signed as witness to the agreement while Ryan Earl So of Indra Sistemas and Henry Tan Sim of Voatz signed as representatives of the solutions providers.
Wee-Lozada and Philip Luis Marin from the Office for Overseas Voting (OFOV) were also present at the ceremony.
Due to conflict in schedule, COMELEC said Smartmatic will sign the agreement on a later date.
The commission said the signing of non-disclosure agreements will be conducted prior to the actual test run.
The poll body said the first and second phases of the internet voting system have already been completed in the last quarter of 2020 and the first quarter of 2021, respectively.
The fourth and last phase will be the evaluation phase, which pertains to the post-election assessment activity to document all stakeholders’ observations, user experience, feedback, comments, among others.
Under Republic Act 9189 or the Overseas Voting Act, COMELEC is authorized to explore internet-based technologies for overseas voting.