Tuesday, July 28, 2015

The Philippines 2016 general elections: a plan for automation

Preparing for a major general election is a long and complicated process that can involve many moving pieces. This is all in addition to all the campaigning and debates in which the various candidates may participate. A growing number of democracies around the world are utilizing electronic voting technology in some form and another. One of the best examples to emerge from the Asia Pacific (APAC) region is the Philippines, a country that will be holding its national and local elections in May 2016.

The people of the Philippines will be heading to the polls in less than a year and the electoral commission for the country still has a great deal of preparation and planning ahead of it. Most notably, the Commission on Elections (Comelec) is currently accepting and reviewing bids for the machines to be used in the vote counting process. Comelec for the Republic of the Philippines is still keeping its options open, choosing whether next year's presidential election will be fully automated, partially automated, or if it will use a more traditional manual method.

The Republic of the Philippines is hardly a stranger to electronic voting technology, having already utilized the technology in 2010 and 2013. Indeed, the country was applauded  for “putting technology to new and better use.”  Given the tremendous success in both elections, it can be safely assumed that the country will continue its development and adoption of e-voting technology for the 2016 general elections.

While a bid put forth by Smartmatic and Total Information Management was initially disqualified due to a failure to submit valid Articles of Incorporation, that ban has since been overturned and the bid to provide some 23,000 new vote-counting machines can and will be suitably considered. As Comelec is still considering a hybrid solution for the 2016 election, the requirement for the new machines is still up to debate and may be changed. The machines in this case will use the aforementioned OMR technology, the same as was used in the 2010 and 2013 elections.

The Philippines is a nation with a democratic conviction and the upcoming general elections will once again demonstrate why the country continues to be a shining example of how e-voting can be best implemented in the Asia Pacific region.