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Philippines consider adding biometrics to voting machines for 2025 elections

Categories Biometrics News  |  Elections  |  ID for All
Philippines consider adding biometrics to voting machines for 2025 elections

The Commission on Elections (Comelec) in the Philippines has announced intentions of potentially using new biometric technology in the country’s 2025 national election, reports the Philippine News Agency.

Comelec chairperson George Garcia said the Commission is considering integrating biometrics in voting machines, including facial, fingerprint, and signature-based modalities.

“If these are incorporated as part of the Terms of Reference, it will resolve the issue that a voter can vote from one province to another city,” Garcia explained at a press briefing on Thursday.

At the same time, the Comelec chairperson clarified that the exact biometric technologies that will be deployed for the election will depend on funding availability.

“We always have to factor the budget. If we want specific technology but it’s too expensive, we can’t afford it. Hopefully, in 2025, the Comelec will be allowed to use new machines and technology based on the recommendation of the summit, strategic planning.”

Regardless of integrating biometric technologies, Garcia adds that Comelec intends to phase out 98,000 vote-counting machines (VCMs) before the next election. Some of these devices, in use since 2019, have been experiencing malfunctions in the past, according to reporting by Rappler.

The Commission chair also discussed plans to potentially lease the new biometric voting machines instead of buying them.

“Best approach is to lease the machines. Because when you buy, it’s expensive and we don’t have a warehouse yet. If it’s a lease, it’s always new.”

To support the digitalization of the voting process further, the Philippines’ Vice President Sara Duterte called on Comelec to potentially eliminate ballot shading (filling in an oval or circle next to a candidate’s name on a paper ballot) and handwriting on ballots (to enable the addition of unlisted candidates).

“As you discuss improvements in the electoral process, maybe we can move to something better than shading the ballots or writing on the ballots,” Duterte is quoted as saying at the first-ever National Election Summit in Pasay.

The suggestions come weeks after Comelec closed biometric registrations for the October 2023 Barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan Elections.

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