CNN Philippines : Higher voter turnout seen in Comelec’s online voting trial with Smartmatic

News & Interviews
20 September 2021

By Melissa Luz Lopez | CNN Philippines

Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, September 20) — More test voters managed to cast their digital ballots during the second internet voting dry run using Smartmatic’s web-based platform.

Smartmatic, the country's automated elections system provider since 2010, hosted a trial of internet-based voting over the weekend which saw the tandem of Maroon 5 frontman Adam Levine and Grammy-winning singer Alicia Keys elected as president and vice president.

The poll body is looking to offer online voting to Filipinos abroad in the 2025 elections but will need a new law for its use.

The trial yielded a 64% voter turnout, or 426 of 669 volunteers able to cast their votes. This is higher than the 52.01% recorded during the web and mobile app-based simulation by American firm Voatz earlier this month.

Voting was done through Smartmatic's TIVI website, which may be accessed on any web browser or smartphone.

Only 10 voters reported issues in signing up, one of which remained unsolved. However, Smartmatic offered fewer safeguards on identity verification by just sending a unique code by email to each voter. No new round of identity verification was done, unlike Voatz.

"We believe that including less tools between the voter and the electoral system is the best approach. That is why we worked in a web application," Smartmatic product manager Armando Torres Chong said in a Monday briefing. "In that way, we ensure that it’s the same voting experience while using any of the devices."

However, Comelec said it will wait for the third voting simulation this week before drawing any conclusions.

"Whether or not a purely browser-based approach is something that would be better or something we would recommend in Congress, is still too early to say at this point," Comelec Office for Overseas Voting director Bea Wee-Lozada said.

"The improvements or the better turnout rate is not really solely attributable to the platform. There are other factors like there were reminder emails sent out, that may have increased (voting)," she added.

Comelec will tap Spanish firm Indra Sistemas for another online voting dry run from September 25-27. It would enforce the strictest rules to verify a voter's identity by requiring Comelec approval prior to the casting of ballots, along with the uploading of a copy of the passport, selfie, and a video of the voter saying his/her name and holding up their passport.

Smartmatic's online voting system is used for national elections in Estonia.