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DICT proposes alternative automated voting systems

The Department of Information and Communications Technology proposed alternative voting methods for possible use in future elections.

“We are only recommending improvements or alternatives to the current AES [automated election system]. Comelec [Commission on Elections) has the final say as DICT is only recommendatory,” acting DICT Secretary Eliseo Rio Jr. said. 

“Comelec may adopt, disregard or modify what DICT has proposed,” he said.

Rio on Friday presented new systems that intended to combine the speed of electronic counting and the transparency of manual counting. 

The DICT presented three ways where voters could cast their ballot such as freehand, barcode stickers and “exam-style”.

Comelec executive director Jose Tolentino Jr., however, expressed reservations over the proposed methods because of conflict with the right to voter confidentiality. 

Rio was open to the criticism and said that the DICT would come up with other methods to present during the DICT Automated Election System Technology Fair on July 15, 2019.

Under the freehand method, handwriting-recognition software will be used to recognize the names that the voter jotted down in their respective ballots.

The barcode stickers method will feature a sticker sheet that contains a barcode for each candidate per electoral position. Voters then peel off the respective stickers of the candidates they wish to elect and stick those in the corresponding areas of their ballots.

The “exam-style” is a format like the current ballot with circles that the voter has to shade on. Instead of names, however, each electoral post will have numbers corresponding to a candidate that must be shaded. 

Another proposed change is that the ballots should no longer be fed by the voters themselves. All ballots will be kept in a box and will be fed into the vote counting machines at the end of the voting period. 

Rio said this would allow election inspectors to see each ballot as it is fed into the machine and view the counts real-time. The inspectors will then review if the ballot is counted correctly, at which point they will push a button to confirm it.

He said that in all three methods, each ballot will have a unique QR code so it can only be counted once no matter how many times it is fed into the machine.

Topics: Department of Information and Communications Technology , DICT , automated election system , Comelec , Commission on Elections
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