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Filipinos can enroll biometrics from any location in next general voter registration

Categories Biometrics News  |  Elections  |  ID for All

The Commission on Elections (Comelec) of the Philippines will allow a system in which potential voters can enroll on the electoral register wherever they find themselves, even outside their province of origin.

This system, dubbed “Register Anywhere,” is part of a proposed plan by the election management agency to redo a nationwide biometric voter registration exercise, per Malaya Business.

If approved, Comelec will deploy the Register Anywhere Program (RAP), which was trialled during the voter registration period for the Barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan Elections.

The RAP will be particularly useful for groups like students and workers who find themselves away from their permanent residences during the voter registration window, officials say.

With the proposed system, citizens wishing to register for elections only need to stop by a RAP booth nearest to their location, submit their application form and identity credentials, and then get their biometrics captured by Comelec.

Once the registration information is collected, it is vetted and then transmitted to the Comelec office in the area which has jurisdiction over the residence of the applicant. It could be a city, district or municipal office.

Comelec Chairman George Garcia is quoted as saying during a recent interview that the RAP system will make the voter registration process seamless and “more accessible to the people.”

The electoral agency says its push to have a new general voter registration drive is to address integrity questions related to the current voter register.

Meanwhile, as part of efforts to upgrade its election management system, Comelec is seeking to procure a Fully Automated System with Transparency Audit and Count (FASTrAC).

In September, a Filipino elections watchdog, the National Movement for Free Elections (NAMFREL), called on Comelec to ensure a fully transparent procurement process that will be fair to both local and international potential bidders.

Smartmatic rejects accusations, asks for dismissal

Smartmatic, one of the possible biding companies, in a recent statement, urged Comelec to dismiss a petition suggesting that the firm be disqualified from the bidding process for the automated election system, the state-owned Philippine News Agency (PNA) reports.

Comelec received a petition against Smartmatic in June on accusation of procurement impropriety, but the company has told the election agency that the claims against it “are unfounded,” and lack “any evidence,” even after multiple audits and recounts.

The firm adds that it has never been indicted for any procurement scandals in its 23 years of existence, and that this can be verified with the U.S. Department of Justice. Smartmatic has won election contracts in a number of countries including Albania and Uganda.

Submission of bids for the automated electoral system contract worth 18.8 billion Philippine pesos (approximately US$340 million) begins today, November 28, and ends on December 12, according to PNA.

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