Comelec inks deal for online voting, counting system for OFWs

Comelec inks deal for online voting, counting system for overseas voters

By: - Reporter / @luisacabatoINQ
/ 08:00 PM June 25, 2024

The Commission on Elections (Comelec) sealed the deal on Tuesday with the joint venture of SMS Global Technologies Inc. and Sequent Tech Inc. for the first-ever online voting and counting system (OVCS) for Filipino overseas voters.

Officials from the Commission on Elections, SMS Global Technologies Inc., and Sequent Tech Inc. pose for a photo during the contract signing ceremony for the first-ever online voting and counting system for Filipino overseas voters in the upcoming 2025 midterm elections on Tuesday, June 25, 2024, at the Comelec Main Office. (Photo by Luisa Cabato)

MANILA, Philippines —  The Commission on Elections (Comelec) on Tuesday sealed a deal with the joint venture of SMS Global Technologies Inc. and Sequent Tech Inc. for the first-ever online voting and counting system (OVCS) for Filipino overseas voters.

The joint venture had the lowest calculated bid for the procurement of OVCS among four bidders for the upcoming 2025 midterm elections.

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READ: Comelec: Lowest computed bid for overseas voting system emerges

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Comelec said that their bid stood at a mere P112 million, which is much lower than the allocated budget of P465.8 million for the OVCS procurement.

In his speech, Comelec Chairman George Erwin Garcia stressed that online voting would encourage more Filipinos to exercise their right to vote.

“Kung paano po natin inaayos ang pagboto sa ating mga kababayan dito sa ating bansa, ganyan din dapat ang maiparanas natin sa mga kababayan natin abroad,” he said.

(In the same way we organize voting for our fellow citizens here in our country, we should also provide the same experience for our fellow citizens abroad.)

READ: Comelec, Miru ink P17.99 B pact for automated 2025 polls

But Garcia also acknowledged that, until now, some Filipinos abroad have not registered for the upcoming elections, mainly due to the far distance of Philippine embassies from their respective residences and their employment circumstances.

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“Ipinaliwanag namin na walang relasyon ang status niyo sa bansang ‘yan, sa status niyo bilang Pilipino para makaboto. Makakaboto kayo kahit na undocumented kayo, kahit na NPA (no permanent address) kayo,” Garcia said, referring to Filipinos he spoke with in his recent visit to the Miru Systems plant in South Korea.

(We explained that your status in that country has no relation to your status as a Filipino in order to vote. You can vote even if you are undocumented, even if you have no permanent address.)

Furthermore, Garcia assured the public of the OVCS’s security and reliability.

“Naniniwala po tayo sa makabagong teknolohiya na mayroon tayo sa kasalukuyan tulad ng internet banking, tulad ng tinatawag natin na pagbabayad ng mga bills using the internet, wala naman pong pinagkaiba ‘yung dito po sa internet voting,” he said.

(We believe in the modern technology that we currently have, such as internet banking, and what we call paying bills using the internet. There’s no difference with internet voting.)

“Nag-comply fully itong joint venture sa ni-prescribe naming terms of preference,” he added.

(This joint venture fully complied with the terms of preference that we prescribed.)

Following the contract signing, Sequent Tech Inc.’s Chief Technology Officer Eduardo Robles demonstrated how overseas Filipinos can vote using the portal.

First, the voter must register his or her name by providing basic information such as an email address, password, name, phone number, and identification card in the portal.

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Once registered, voters can proceed to select their preferred candidates.

TAGS: Comelec, overseas Filipino workers, voters, voting

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