Comelec: Overseas voting smooth sailing so far

ABS-CBN News

Commission on Elections (Comelec) chairman Andres Bautista said no major glitches or issues have so far been reported at the start of the overseas absentee voting (OAV).

The month-long OAV being conducted across the globe started April 9 and will end May 9, the date of the national and local elections in the country.

Speaking on ANC, Bautista said voting is currently ongoing in 18 countries, including Hong Kong, Singapore, and some parts of Europe and the Middle East.

He also said Comelec has introduced innovations in this year's OAV, including a 24-hour online technical help desk.

"One of the innovations that was introduced for this year's overseas Filipino voting is they can always contact us, the various posts can contact Comelec and/or Smartmatic, through Skype and e-mail, so we have a 24-hour desk that will help them in case there are technical difficulties that will be encountered," he said.

He added, to make the voting process more convenient for overseas Filipinos, the poll body has introduced the concept of "mixed voting" for the OAV, which gives voters an option not to personally appear in the precinct and instead e-mail their votes.

"We are introducing the concept of mix voting which gives an overseas Filipino an option whether to personally appear in the embassy or the consulate or to just mail his or her vote, so you can receive your ballot through mail and you can also vote through mail. This is especially important in big countries such as the United States and Saudi Arabia wherein the voting center maybe far from the residence of the overseas Filipino," he said.

Meanwhile, Bautista assured the public that the poll body is taking steps to ensure the integrity of every election process taken online, following the hacking of the Comelec website last March 27.

READ: Comelec hacking threatens security of voters: Trend Micro

He said, Comelec has partnered with the National Bureau of Investigation, the Department of Science of Technology and several private groups to introduce more safeguards so the hacking incident will not happen again.

"We are taking steps to ensure that what happened will be mitigated and we're looking for ways that this does not happen again," he said.

He added, the one that was hacked was their public information website and they have set up a different website for the results which is more secure.

"It has features there that no one person will have the ability to be able to manipulate the website because there are various safeguards, various checks and balances, that are put in place so as to preserve the integrity of the website," he said. - reports from ANC's News Now