Internet Voting Electoral Board Convened

The Electoral Board for the recently concluded internet voting pilot test convened today, 8 August 2007, to open the electronic ballot box and count the votes cast electronically by overseas Filipino voters registered in Singapore.

“The non-binding internet voting pilot test ended today at 3 pm,” COMELEC Commissioner Florentino A. Tuason Jr., said. “We convened the Electoral Board so that each member of the Board can enter his password into the system and authorize the opening of the electronic box. Once the box is open, the counting of votes can begin.” The Electoral Board is composed of Tuason, Undersecretary Teodosio C. Sangil Jr., of the Department of Education, and Atty. Germinia V. Aguilar-Usudan of the Department of Foreign Affairs.

A total of 311 votes were cast. Tuason – who is also Chairman of the Committee on Overseas Absentee Voting – explained that the low turnout could be attributed to the fact that the exercise was non-binding. “One of the established factors affecting voter turnout is the nature of the exercise itself. For instance, mid-term elections generate a lower turnout than Presidential elections. Naturally a non-binding election will see fewer people voting than if the exercise were an actual election.”

However, the low turnout didn’t mean that the pilot test was in vain. “We were primarily interested in seeing how the system would hold up against attacks,” Tuason explained, “especially since the security of the internet vote is of utmost importance. And we are very pleased to say that during the pilot testing, we encountered a handful of attacks that we successfully defended against.” He said that the exact nature of the attacks, and how each was defeated by the system, would be disclosed fully upon the completion of a thorough post-test evaluation. “The fact that these attacks failed is a good indicator that internet voting does enjoy a high degree of security and can assure that the integrity of the votes cast is maintained.”

Tuason also referred to the post-election survey conducted during the pilot test period saying “the survey showed very encouraging results.” According to the tally of the Electoral Board, 94% of those who voted indicated that they would vote on the internet in a binding election; 97% said the system was very satisfactory and 96% found the system easy to use; and 92% manifested confidence in the system. “These figures give us a feel for how people feel about the technology. They trust it.”

In a separate interview, he emphasized the benefits of internet voting. “We not only make voting more convenient for our overseas Filipinos, but we also generate a lot of savings since we will no longer have to establish special Boards of Election Inspectors and we will no longer be printing paper ballots.”

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