‘Internet voting may end in-person vote overseas’

Evelyn Macairan - The Philippine Star

MANILA, Philippines - Should Filipinos abroad embrace the concept of internet voting in the 2025 midterm polls, the Commission on Elections (Comelec) said it might discontinue the use of mail-in and in-person casting of ballots for overseas absentee voting (OAV).

Comelec Chairman George Erwin Garcia yesterday said they would assess and decide on the implications of introducing internet voting in 2025 for the OAV.

“If after the 2025 elections we see that more Filipinos abroad patronized internet voting… maybe we could do away with the two modes,” said Garcia, referring to postal and in-person voting.

He said one consideration for such a move is that maintaining a third mode of voting for Filipinos abroad would be more expensive.

When internet voting is introduced in 2025, Garcia said overseas Filipino workers “could still avail of in-person voting and mail-in voting.” But Comelec hopes the new mode of voting would result in a higher voter turnout that would better represent the foreign-based Filipino electorate.

In 2022, the Comelec said the voter turnout for OAV was only 34.88 percent.

Republic Act 10590, the Overseas Voting Act of 2013, gives the commission leeway to consider other modes of voting and if the Comelec sees that internet voting would suffice, then it can decide to scrap the two other modes of casting one’s vote. 

Debate partners

Meanwhile, Garcia said that for the 2025 elections, they would be selecting media entities as their debate partners.

Amid the controversy surrounding the 2022 presidential and vice presidential debates in 2022, wherein the Comelec reportedly chose Impact Hub Manila as its partner, Garcia said that to avoid any problems in future election debates they would be partnering with media entities, which is in accordance with the law.

“We should always follow what is stated in the law. According to Republic Act 9006 (Fair Election Act), it is the media entities that should be holding the debates. Even if the media entities earn a small profit, the Comelec would just be an observer,” said Garcia.

He said he believes the debates should be the same as during the 2016 presidential and vice presidential elections when it was handled by different media entities.

That year, they did not encounter any problems, nor were there issues “because the media entities shouldered all the expenses and even required the candidates to attend the debate.”– Delon Porcalla

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