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Business World : NAMFREL proposes use of open-source software, other enhancements to 2022 automated elections

News & Interviews
31 August 2021

By Business World

ELECTION WATCHDOG National Citizens’ Movement for Free Elections (NAMFREL) has proposed five measures to the automated system for the 2022 national and local elections to improve efficiency and transparency.

These proposals, submitted to the Commission on Elections (Comelec), are the use of an open-source election software, conversion of the data format to another format, reformatting of the ballot, the use of QR codes on election returns and the voting receipt, and the correct implementation of digital signatures.

In a news briefing on Tuesday, NAMFREL Secretary General Eric Alvia said the use of an open-source election software will open the process to more bidders, instead of just the usual partner of the Comelec, which may make the election software “more competitive, less costly, and more transparent.”

Converting the data format of the system from the election mark-up language format to the comma-separated values format will also fast-track the transmission of election data to stakeholders such as the media, political parties, and election monitoring organizations to further avoid doubts on the credibility of the data, he said.

NAMFREL also proposed to reformat the list of candidates on ballots by arranging them based on random numbers drawn randomly before the start of the campaign period instead of the usual alphabetical arrangement by surname.

The use of QR codes and replacing the digital signatures of the machine suppliers with that of the members of the electoral boards or of the boards of canvassers will ensure the authenticity of the electronic results, he said. It will also make the counting process faster and more transparent, he added.

“We gave our proposals and recommendations to the Comelec last June and we were also able to submit our proposal to the Comelec advisory council,” Mr. Alvia said.

He noted that no legislation is needed for these proposals.

NAMFREL will deploy observers across the country to monitor the conduct of the 2022 local and national polls. — Bianca Angelica D. Añago