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Stringent biometrics to eventually junk indelible ink – Comelec

If the Commission on Elections (Comelec) had its way, indelible ink would be gone in the 2016 elections, replaced by stringent biometric checks.

Comelec Commissioner Christian Robert Lim said that the Comelec had been looking forward to test a biometrics-based Voter Verification System (VVS) for the coming elections, which would virtually make the flying voter problem a thing of the past.

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“When your biometrics are scanned and it shows you haven’t voted yet, you will be given a ballot. And at the end of the day, the biometrics machine will print the voter turnout,” Lim said on the sidelines of the first Meet Inquirer Media forum last week.

The commission said in February that it was intending to pilot test the technology in Metro Manila in 2016, but Lim conceded that that might have to wait as they have been facing constraints.

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“We were planning to pilot it but with the problems we have had on other issues, we needed more funding for the bidding,” he said.

Lim stressed that the VVS system would be a huge step in eliminating cheating during the polls, specifically through so-called flying voters, who were able to vote twice in the polls chiefly by removing the indelible ink that is proof of their voting, and by posing as someone else.

“Yes, it would definitely reduce flying voters. Going one step further, we are also thinking of tying up the biometrics with the (precinct count optical scan) machine. It would only accept your ballot if it verified that you are really linked to it,” he said.

“But it might be controversial, because there are issues with voter’s secrecy. Nevertheless, it goes to show that, in the future, there’s a lot of possible ways for technology in the elections,” Lim added.

For now, though, Lim said the Comelec has been focused on implementing the mandatory biometric registration of voters. The Comelec is keen to see all registered voters be tied with biometric information, chiefly fingerprints, to eliminate double and spurious registrants in the voters records.

“What’s important for us now is to see the implementation of mandatory biometrics. Then hopefully we can move one step further. Maybe then we can start with standalone VVS devices, if the Comelec gets enough funding for than. These machines are expensive,” he said.

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TAGS: 2016 elections, Automated elections, biometrics, Christian Robert Lim, Commission on Elections, Elections, technology, Voter Registration, Voter Verification System
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