Android voting machines, touch-screen ballots offered for 2019 polls

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By Clarist Zablan

An Android phone that can be used as a voting machine, a touch-screen ballot, and a paper ballot that allows corrections by covering them with black ink. These are just three of the seven automated election system (AES) solutions presented to the Commission on Elections (Comelec) Advisory Council (CAC) during the AES Technology Fair on July 26.

DICT secretary Rodolfo Salalima and Comelec chair Andres Bautista opened the AES fair
DICT secretary Rodolfo Salalima and Comelec chair Andres Bautista opened the AES fair

The technology fair was organized to seek AES technologies to be used in the 2019 elections. The CAC will submit their recommendations before August 8.

The poll body may choose between refurbishing the old Precint Count Optical Scanner (PCOS) machines, purchasing new Vote Counting Machines, and/or make use of the technologies presented in the fair, Comelec chairperson Andres Bautista said.

Five of the seven presentors come from local developers, namely Precinct Automated Tallying System (PATAS), Transparent Election System (TAPAT), IP Converge (IPC), Development Bank of the Philippines Data Center, Inc. (DBP DCI), and Arronet Solutions Integrator.

DBP DCI developed a prototype voting system making use of Android phones as voting machines. Votes are sent to two transparency servers, the first receiving directly from the phones and the second sent through QR scanning.

Arronet presented an online voting system that makes use of an electronic ballot. The printed ballot is also stored in a QR code.

IPC, part of the PLDT Group, developed an encryption system named On Your Own Security where the end user can create their own algorithm. They also presented a Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) Mitigation solution, where they partnered with Continent 8.

PATAS, developed through former Comelec commissioner Gus Lagman, automates the vote canvassing only. Precinct counting is done manually and through a laptop at the same time. Lagman said that in automating precinct counting, transparency is lost.

TAPAT is a voting system developed by Arnold and Angelo Villasanta, where votes are cast on a paper ballot with a red ink, allowing corrections by covering them with black ink.

PATAS and TAPAT were proposed as alternatives to PCOS machines for 2016 elections.

Meanwhile, transnational companies who presented in the fair are Laxton Group and Smartmatic International Corp., who supplied the VCM from the 2016 Elections. Smartmatic presented A4500, an electronic voting machine with a touch-screen ballot.

The Laxton Group presented a voter registration system that involves recording biometrics through fingerprint scanning and camera. They have yet to develop a voting system.

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