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Philippines to test biometric remote voting solutions, urged to acquire more scanners

Categories Biometrics News  |  Elections  |  ID for All

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The Commission on Elections of the Philippines (Comelec) is planning to conduct an online trial voting exercise with biometrics in order to choose a digital voting solutions provider from four companies vying for the contract.

To this effect, Comelec has called on citizens abroad to begin signing up for the internet voting, according to Inquirer.net. They have until 8:00 am local time on February 12 to do so, and only those with active voter registration status are eligible to participate, Comelec said.

All of this is part of the preparation for elections in the country next year.

According to the Inquirer, the potential online voters should have registered their required biometric information, including a facial photograph, fingerprints and the signature of the individual. Voters can cast their online ballot if they have a mobile phone that supports android or iOS applications or a laptop or PC that is connected to the internet, the election commission stated.

Sonia Bea Wee-Lozada, Comelec’s director in charge of Overseas Voting is quoted in the report as instructing that those intending to take part in the online vote must send a signed consent form alongside a copy of their passports or seafarer’s document, in accordance with the existing data privacy policy guiding the exercise. She said the document should be sent to Comelec’s official email address, and that other useful information regarding the test voting will be posted on the body’s Facebook page.

This move comes after biometric voting solution providers Voatz and Smartmatic pitched their remote online voting systems among the four companies that Comelec is considering for the deal.

More biometric scanners to scale up voter registration

Also as part of preparations for upcoming elections in the Philippines, Comelec has been called upon to get more biometric scanners and open up new and bigger registration spaces in order to speed up the ongoing voter enrolment process in the country.

UNTVweb quoted the country’s Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon as suggesting that satellite biometric voter registration points be set up to help deal with the huge number of persons who show up at Comelec’s small offices.

The call for more space is also prompted by the fact that the number of people showing up for registration has to be limited because of the COVID-19 pandemic, the lawmaker was cited as saying.

Senator Drilon, UNTVweb notes, asked the elections body to take action immediately because sufficient funds have been allocated to it in the 2020 and 2021 national budgets.

“There is no way the Comelec can reach its target number of voters for next year’s election at that rate of 50 to 70 registrants per day. We are running out of time. COMELEC should intensify its efforts to install more registration sites,” the Senator was quoted as saying. He also said the country’s workforce includes many IT workers who have lost their jobs and are capable of operating biometric registration devices.

Drilon added that so far, there are three million people still to be registered, and seven million others have to update their status because they have been deregistered for failing to vote in the last two elections in the country.

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