The Commission on Elections on Wednesday said the first of three rounds of testing for internet voting will push through this weekend, as it looks to the future of elections in the Philippines.
Voatz, a U.S.-based, for-profit company, is spearheading the pilot that runs from 8 a.m. on Sept. 11 to 8 a.m. on Sept. 13, Comelec spokesperson James Jimenez said.
There will be more test runs with two other multinational companies, Indra and Smartmatic, also in September, he said.
How Voatz' online voting app works
For the test run, Voatz set up a designated website detailing information needed by participants, which include a page for Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) and another page for test voter guides on app or website navigation, depending on which Voatz medium they prefer to use for the test run.
Prior to the testing, Comelec said it would put out a voting list via the Office for Overseas Voting (OFOV) Facebook page.
As explained by Jesse Andrews, Voatz's director for sales and business development, the technology works in virtually any part of the world as long as one has an active mobile plan that can receive SMS in a timely manner for confirmation.
With security of their technology a priority as much as accesibility, Voatz said users whose phones have high risk profiles (those jail broken or whose firewalls are long outdated) may have problems accessing the app. Each entry's identity information will also be tied to one phone, thereby preventing multiple applications in one device.
Within the app, users will be asked multiple times to show proof of identity for maximum security.
Before submitting a test vote, participants will be shown a vote receipt that they will be asked to confirm to avoid mistakes in their voting choices. In case further assistance is needed throughout the process, Voatz has a fully-staffed email and phone help desk ready for any tech-related concerns.
Should these test runs yield positive results, Comelec Commissioner Rowena Guanzon said she would recommend internet voting to the Comelec En Banc for implementation as early as the 2025 midterm elections.
Founded in 2016, Voatz said they've been assisting in both public and private elections in the U.S., mostly catering to absentee voters and persons with disabilities.
"We've been used in five different states, 30 plus different counties and jurisdictions. Those are national, federal elections so they have state, presidential, congressional contests on the ballot. We just started working with Canadian clients. We have been used at the national level in the U.S. and hope to have that internationally as well," Andrews said.