MANILA - The Commission on Elections (Comelec) on Friday said it would begin an "online voting experiment" for overseas Filipino workers (OFW) in the coming months to see if a digital polling scheme would encourage more voters abroad to participate in elections.
The Comelec is still "looking for test subjects" for the online voting dry run that will begin either in March or in April, Comelec spokesperson James Jimenez told ABS-CBN News.
"Mag-o-online voting experiment po tayo kasi gusto natin makapag-present ng data sa Congress to show that overseas online voting is doable and it is secure," he said.
(We will hold an online voting experiment because we want to present data to Congress to show that overseas online voting is doable and it is secure.)
"Ang lagi kasing reklamo, ang laki-laki ng ginagastos, ang liit-liit ng turn out," he said.
(The usual complaint is we spend so much on overseas voting, but turnout is very low.)
Of the 1.65 million registered overseas Filipino voters, only 300,000 participated in the 2019 midterm polls, the Comelec said during its budget deliberations in the Senate last year.
Of the 2.4 million OFWs around the world in 2015, only 1.37 million registered as overseas absentee voters for the 2016 presidential elections, data gathered by the ABS-CBN Investigative & Research Group from the Comelec’s Office for Overseas Voting showed.
"One of the reasons we've identified for that is 'yung geography nila
lalo na 'pag 'yung consulate wala doon sa bansa kung nasaan sila," Jimenez said.
(One of the reasons we've identified for that is geography, especially if the consulate is not located in the country where they are working.)
The online voting experiment will be open to "everyone who is registered overseas" and 20 representatives from the media, the Comelec spokesperson said.
Since the proposed online voting scheme may not yet be implemented in time for the 2022 presidential elections, the Comelec is also working on possible solutions for repatriated OFWs who need to transfer their areas of registration, he said.
"They are waiting for reassignment overseas. They want to vote and even if they want to transfer registration, they are waiting for the last moment to transfer kasi nga naman baka bukas makalawa, nakabalik na sila [abroad] (because they might be deployed abroad again soon)," he said.
"Ine-expect natin na baka marami tayong last-minute transfers na makita. That will be a major issue," he said.
(We expect to have a lot of last-minute transfers. That will be a major issue.)
The deadline of voter registration is on September 30.