Business Mirror : Comelec wary of ‘digital vote buying’ in 2022 polls

18 June 2021

By SAMUEL MEDENILLA | Business Mirror

Are digital platforms a boon or bane for the upcoming 2022 national and local elections (NLE)?

The Commission on Elections (Comelec) is now closely monitoring on how new online technology could alter changing election landscape amid the Covid-19 pandemic.

Comelec Spokesman James Jimenez has admitted the poll body is wary on possible “digital vote buying” in the NLE.

“We’ve been saying this as much for the longest time, or since the people started using e-wallets, we have seen that potential. Especially with the onset of the pandemic, many transactions have moved into online transactions,” Jimenez said in a television interview on Friday.

He candidly stated the Comelec alone can not do anything to address the matter since it involves matters, which are already beyond the poll body’s jurisdiction.

“Addressing this issue isn’t something that anyone of our agencies can do by itself. It will have to be a common effort by all agencies,” Jimenez said.

In a recent tweet, Jimenez urged the voters to shut the illegal practice of vote buying, whether it’s online or offline, which he said “taints” the outcome of the polls.

Registration impact

Jimenez, however, noted that new technology could also help in the conduct of the elections particularly in empowering more people to become registered voters.

He cited their recently launched Mobile Registration app, which they are now pilot testing nationwide.

The app, which was designed to allow people to fill up the Comelec voter registration form even offline through their phones, was already downloaded 100,000 times in the last three days alone.

Jimenez said they expect the app’s effect to their ongoing voter registration will become apparent in the coming weeks.

“When you download, it doesn’t mean you go out and register same day. A lot of people register after some time. We will see that impact downstream,” Jimenez said.

Last Thursday, Comelec said it has registered over 4.8 million first-time and reactivated voters.

The deadline for voter registration is on September 30.