The Philippines keeps moving forward and automates voting abroad

In the Philippines, over 52 million voters use voting machines.

While nations such as Mexico and Spain have spent years evaluating the implementation of e-voting for their citizens living abroad, the Philippines (which will hold their second automated election on May 13th), chose to expand electoral guarantees and to extend e-voting to Filipinos living abroad.

The step taken by this Asian country is nothing but an answer to the global need of the defending political rights of those citizens who, by virtue of living abroad, have difficulties in exercising their right to vote.

These people usually face problems in validating their status as voters; this is mainly due to the request of some nations of possessing legal residency to do so, and the subsequent fear of revealing their migratory status. However, it’s technical and logistical hurdles that impede voting the most. For instance, getting the wrong electoral material or locating polling centres far away from where many citizens live.

To solve these shortcomings, the Filipino Commission on Elections (Comelec) chose to replicate the e-voting system that was successfully used for the first time in 2010 (manual voting with automated counting and results transmission, based on the technology of the multinational provided by Smartmatic) in seven of the countries that host Filipino citizens, namely China (Hong Kong); Singapore; United Arab Emirates (Abu Dhabi and Dubai); Saudi Arabia (Riyad and Jeddah) and Kuwait.

988,384 voters reside outside the Philippines, a number that could very well impact electoral results, and the country has understood this. Out of these, 388,593 reside in the Middle East and for a month (their voting process started on April 13th and will run until May 13th) have been able to use the same voting machines that Filipinos use on their over 7,000 islands, thus increasing voter turnout and facilitating the process.

E-voting and its versatility have made possible for the country to achieve goals in its task of ending the exclusion of thousands of citizens, who have the same voting rights as those who live in Filipino territory.

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