‘Online voting only mode for overseas Filipinos’
BY WILLIAM B. DEPASUPIL
The Manila Times
INTERNET voting will become the sole mode for overseas Filipino voters in all future elections if its initial implementation in the 2025 midterm elections is successful. Comelec Chairman George Erwin Garcia said on Thursday internet voting could eventually replace inperson voting for Filipinos abroad. Garcia further said that once internet voting is implemented, the commission will ensure the security and integrity of the process by adopting features for validating the veracity of the result. The Comelec en banc has already approved the use of the internet as an alternative mode of voting for overseas Filipino workers starting in 2025. Garcia said the move is meant to increase voter turnout among Filipinos abroad at less cost to the government. The Comelec spent more than P400 million for overseas voting in the 2022 elections, but voter turnout was only 39 percent. It was even much lower in previous elections, he said. “Spending P411 million (for overseas voting) but resulting in a dismal 39 percent turnout is not value for money, so to speak. Why are not so many overseas Filipinos voting personally or by mail? Maybe they need another mode,” Garcia said. At present, overseas voters cast their votes either by mail or voting personally at Philippine embassy or foreign posts where they are registered. In 2022, around P1.W million migrant voters registered in 92 Philippine posts around the world. The largest concentration of overseas registered voters is in the Middle East and Africa with W86,99W, followed by the Asia Pacific with 450,282. The Latin American countries have a total of 306,445 Filipino voters; while Europe has 153,491. Overseas voters can only vote for president, vice president, 12 senators and one party-list group. The overseas absentee voting starts 30 days before regular elections begin but simultaneously close along with the local voting. Comelec spokesman John Rex Laudiangco said the commission’s authority to tap other modes of voting is based on Section 16.11 of Republic Act (RA) 9189, and Sections 23 and 28 of RA 10580. Laudiangco explained that under said laws, Congress granted Comelec the authority to pursue alternative modes of voting. He added that overseas internet voting is safe because it requires only small volume of data, similar to that of text messages.