THE 2016 national and local elections will have improved transparency even if the Commission on Elections (Comelec) opted to go with the Precinct Count Optical Scan (PCOS) machines as the system for automated voting, according to Senator Aquilino “Koko” Pimentel 3rd.
In an interview after the Senate Committee on Finance hearing on the proposed 2016 budget of the Comelec, the senator on Thursday said that aside from the use of brand new PCOS machines, the poll body also promised to have the source code open for early review.
“We will have sufficient time for review of the source code unlike before when the source code was opened just weeks before the 2013 mid-term elections,” Pimentel told reporters.
The source code is a human readable instruction that defines what the (PCOS) computer will do.
Under the Comelec’s Automated Elections Systems Law, once an automated election system (AES) technology is selected for implementation, it shall promptly make the source code of that technology available and open to interested political groups for their own individual review.
The Comelec, during the 2013-midterm elections, was heavily criticized for its failure to make the source code available to interested political parties on time.
It was also reported that the Comelec has not obtained the source code for the 80,000 PCOS machines a month before the 2013 polls.
“I think the Comelec is prepared because basically they are getting new machines and new system,” he added.
The source codes are for the more than 90,000 brand new machines to be used in 2016. The new machines will replace the 82,000 PCOS machines used by the poll body during the 2010 and 2013 elections.
Comelec targets more OFW voters
Meanwhile, the Comelec is also targeting to get additional 1.5 million overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) to register for the absentee voting system, a more convenient way to exercise their right of suffrage.
At present there are about 1.2 million OFWs registered as absentee voters in 222 countries.
One of the means to entice OFWs to register is the Online Voters’ Registration for Overseas Filipino Workers (OFW) or the iRehistro,
Through the iRehistro program, OFWs can fill out voters’ registration forms in their homes, workplaces, and Internet cafes in their convenience.
As for the voting proper, Comelec had laid out several options for OFWs from automated machines, which will require personal appearance to postal voting.
“We plan to invite presidentiables to come… introduce their governance platform for OFWs and give it widest dissemination possible. See whether their own interest in OFW vote will generate higher turnout,” Comelec Commissioner Arthur Lim said.
Of the P15.6 billion proposed budget of the Comelec for 2016, around P200 million will be used to fund the overseas absentee voting.
During the 2013 elections only 113,209 out of 737,759 registered OFW voters participated in the polls.