Senate panel to test 'hybrid election' system in May

Katrina Domingo, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Mar 04 2020 07:39 PM

MANILA - A Senate committee is expected to test in May a new election system that involves both manual and automated procedures, Sen. Imee Marcos said Tuesday.

The Senate Committee on Electoral Reforms is working on a "new hybrid automated system" to address voters' doubts on the veracity of national and midterm elections, said Marcos, chair of the committee.

"Gusto ko magkaroon ng (I want to have a) live run through. And when they are ready, we will make it open to the public," she told reporters.

Among the upgrades being considered is the incorporation of projectors showing voters that their ballots were counted immediately after being fed into the vote-counting machine.

"Once you put the ballot into the machine, makikita mo sa'n napunta balota mo, at masi-simulate 'yung bilangan para makita mo," Marcos said.

(Once you put the ballot into the machine, you will see where your ballot went to and the counting will be simulated before your eyes.)

The committee is also studying the possibility of changing the mode of ballot marking from shading an oval to just putting a check or an X mark on boxes. It is aimed at making the voting process faster.

"Kaya lang, kapag check lang or X lang, mas madali daw yung dayaan sa pre-shaded ballots... So, pag-aaralan pa namin," the senator said.

(But then, if it's just a check or an X mark, cheating will reportedly be easier through pre-shaded ballots... So, we really need to study.)

Suggestions to allow overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) to vote online or through mobile applications were temporarily ruled out in the 2022 elections as experts have yet to vet if the system can be safeguarded from hacking.

"I’m aware that it’s a cry of our OFWs to be able to vote online... We are aware of those problems. But at the same time, we need to secure their votes," Marcos said.

"Ang recommendation ng IT experts, until such time na okay na ang mobile apps, parang 'wag na muna gamitin sa botohan," she said.

(The recommendation of IT experts is, until such time that mobile apps are okay, then we don't use that system yet in the elections.)

The committee targets to finalize the new voting process during the next regular session of Congress, the senator said.

"I hope in the next session, at the very latest, kasi hindi na ganun kalayo ang 2022 (because 2022 is already near)," she said.

The Philippines' first fully automated elections was in 2010.