Manila Standard : ‘Vote-buying to go digital’

17 October 2021

By Vito Barcelo | Manila Standard

The Commission on Elections is training its guns on online vote-buying for next year’s synchronized national and local elections.

Comelec spokesman James Jimenez said the poll body will start talks with digital wallet operators to help track possible electronic vote-buying.

“We have what we call e-wallets or e-payments systems. In fact, I will talk to a company that does that because they have monitoring tools,” he said.

“It's not clear to me that the use of e-wallets for vote-buying can be banned. But what is important for ‘Vote…me right now is that we are able to identify behavior that signals vote-buying,” he added.

An example of this, he said, is if an account is suddenly loaded with a huge amount of money only to release the same in small amounts to various other accounts.

“Obviously, that indicates vote buying. So, once we can identify these patterns, law enforcement can then take over,” Jimenez said.

Meanwhile, the Comelec has extended for two hours the daily voter registration – now from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. – that will run until Oct. 30.

Registration will also be opened on Saturdays in select areas, including Metro Manila.

The extended registration hours will also be applicable in mall registration sites.

The registration sites areas are in Metro Manila, Alcala, Pangasinan, San Quintin, Pangasinan, Tarlac City, Capas, Tarlac, Concepcion, Tarlac, Quezon province, Labo, Camarines Norte: Castilla, Sorsogon, Cebu City, Mandaue City and Lapu-Lapu City

The rest of the country will still observe an 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. voter registration hours on weekdays.

“To reiterate, all types of application will be accepted, not just those that may come from first-time registrants,” Jimenez said.

The Comelec said it expects at least 500,000 new voters during the extended registration period.

Comelec is set to conduct voting simulations on Oct. 23 in San Juan as approved by the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases.

The IATF ruled that “voting simulation exercises are essential activities.”

“For this purpose, all participants, including the voters, are exempt from any travel restrictions in place and shall not be required to show proof of vaccination status and/or be required to undergo any Reverse Transcription Polymerase Chain Reaction test,” the IATF resolution read.