Comelec OKs plan to conduct internet voting for overseas workers in 2025

Dwight de Leon

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Comelec OKs plan to conduct internet voting for overseas workers in 2025

ONSITE VOTING. Filipinos vote at the Philippine consulate in Los Angeles on May 8, 2022. The USA follows a postal mode of voting but voters were allowed to fill in their ballots onsite.

Philippine consulate general in Los Angeles

Unlike in previous administrations, the Comelec, under chairman George Garcia, says a new law won't be necessary to introduce internet voting for overseas Filipinos

MANILA, Philippines – The Commission on Elections (Comelec) made public yet another ambitious policy for the 2025 midterm elections – allowing internet voting for overseas Filipinos.

Comelec Chairman George Garcia said the move is meant to increase voter turnout among Filipinos abroad.

“Spending P411 million (for overseas voting) but resulting in a dismal 39% turnout is not value for money so to speak. Why are not so many overseas Filipinos voting personally or by mail? Maybe they need another mode,” he told reporters on Wednesday, May 17.

The 39% turnout in the 2022 polls, however, is the highest since the Philippines allowed overseas voting. Voting personally in the country’s foreign posts or by mail are the modes currently allowed for overseas Filipinos.

Garcia entered the poll body as chairman in August 2023. The Comelec, under the leadership of his predecessor Sheriff Abas, already initiated steps for possible internet voting in 2025.

These included test runs with companies that presented their online voting technology to the Philippine poll body.

Comelec OKs plan to conduct internet voting for overseas workers in 2025
Pushing the envelope

Under Abas’ leadership, however, the Comelec was insistent that a new law was necessary in order for internet voting to materialize, based on its reading of Republic Act No. 10590 or the Overseas Voting Act of 2013.

That measure allows Comelec to explore other ways to efficiently conduct overseas voting, “whether paper-based, electronic-based, or internet-based technology.” Results of its evaluation must be submitted to Congress.

But Garcia, in another pushing-the-envelope move that could potentially be challenged in the Supreme Court, said no new legislation is needed in order to introduce internet voting for overseas workers.

“It can be assumed that the Congress has yielded to the expertise and knowledge of the commission in understanding the peculiarities attendant to the overseas voting process, to the extent that Congress no longer required prior approval in the form of legislation in order for the Commission to promulgate rules and regulations and consequently, implement other means of overseas voting that are more reliable, secure, and efficient,” a Comelec press release reads, citing Garcia.

Overseas voting no easy task

Participating in Philippine elections can be a logistics headache for many overseas Filipinos.

Senator Francis Tolentino pointed out in a hearing in 2021 that seafarers are often deprived of their right to vote because they are at sea most of the time.

While the current process allows seafarers to vote by going to the nearest embassy or consular post during the 30-day voting period, Tolentino noted that most seafarers are at sea for six months, which is the usual duration of their contracts.

There are also Filipinos who registered to vote in the Philippines before the polls but are not able to cast their ballots because they are deployed abroad on election day.

A total of 1.6 million voters were registered in the 2022 elections, but only around 626,000 Filipinos cast their ballots. –

Comelec seeks early voting for senior citizens, online voting for OFWs

Comelec seeks early voting for senior citizens, online voting for OFWs

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Dwight de Leon

Dwight de Leon is a multimedia reporter who covers President Ferdinand Marcos Jr., the Malacañang, and the Commission on Elections for Rappler.