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Full automation of overseas voting sought

Christina Mendez (The Philippine Star) - August 4, 2014 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines - Senate President Franklin Drilon called on the Commission on Elections (Comelec) yesterday to pursue full automation of the Overseas Absentee Voting (OAV) Act of 2003, which will allow online registration and voting for Filipino voters abroad.

“It is high time that the Comelec adopts all the necessary technologies that would empower the about 10 to 12 million overseas Filipinos to use the Internet to register and vote in 2016 and onwards, without leaving their jobsites or residences abroad,” Drilon said.

He earlier lamented the very low turnout of OAV registrants despite the huge funds and enormous efforts poured by the government in past elections.

The Senate president cited perennial complaints by OFW groups, immigrants, seafarers and Filipino students abroad about qualified voters who have been discouraged to vote because of the hassles of traveling far to OAV centers in Philippine embassies and consulates.

“Overseas Filipinos risk their lives even in strife-torn countries like Libya now not only for their families, but also to prop up our economy with their over $20 billion in remittances each year,” Drilon said.

As such, he said the government should make it easier for them to vote and to participate in all democratic processes by utilizing the power of the Internet.

Technological advances should be utilized to surmount all overseas voting challenges in the past, Drilon said.

“Online absentee registration and voting is practiced in about 20 countries, including the US, France, Germany, Italy and Australia. I see no reason anymore why it can’t be done in the Philippines as well,” Drilon said.

The security of online registration and voting can be addressed through the use of sophisticated data encryption and other available technologies, he added.

The present modes of registration and voting under the OAV Law (Republic Act 9189 as amended by RA 10590) – through mail or personal appearance at the Philippine embassies or consulates abroad – limit overseas voter registration and actual voting.

In fact, only 2.5 percent or a little over 200,000 of the estimated 10 to 12 million overseas Filipinos (including OFWs, dual citizens and seafarers) have cast their votes in past national elections.

COMELEC DRILON ITALY AND AUSTRALIA OVERSEAS OVERSEAS ABSENTEE VOTING OVERSEAS FILIPINOS REGISTRATION REPUBLIC ACT VOTING
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