2025 Philippine elections

Filipinos will use Comelec’s new voting machines in 2025. Here are the key features.

Dwight de Leon

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Filipinos will use Comelec’s new voting machines in 2025. Here are the key features.

TRYING IT OUT. Members of various civil society groups get to try touch-screen voting machines to be used for overseas voting in certain countries.

Jire Carreon/Rappler

Rappler enumerates the features of the Comelec's new election machines in 2025, from the touch screen to the QR code scanner that can virtually project the image of the actual ballot paper filled out by the voter

MANILA, Philippines – The Commission on Elections (Comelec) is retiring Smartmatic’s decade-old vote-counting machines that Filipinos have used since the 2016 elections, and will be replacing them with new equipment from Korean firm Miru Systems for the 2025 midterms.

The first batch of machines has arrived in the Philippines, and while they will still be subject to customization, the poll body has kicked off a voter education campaign to demonstrate how to use such automated counting machines (ACMs).

Rappler was among the first entities that was given an early preview of how these machines work on Thursday, June 6, and we now list down key features of the equipment.

MIRU Systems vote counting machine Comelec George Garcia
COMELEC Chairman George Garcia leads the demonstration of the new poll machines for 2025 during Rappler’s show on June 6, 2024. Jire Carreon/Rappler
Two systems in one machine, including a touch-screen feature

Two of the most common types of voting technology in the world are direct recording electronic (DRE) system and optical mark recognition (OMR). The latter is what Filipinos have been used to, because Smartmatic’s vote-counting machines (VCMs) read the marks made on ballot papers.

Miru’s ACMs are also OMR equipment, but, unlike Smartmatic’s machines, they also possess DRE technology. This means that the touch-screen feature of the equipment can be enabled, and voters can cast their ballot without physically filling out a ballot paper.

That said, the Comelec is clear that for the 2025 polls, the touch-screen feature of the machines will only be enabled in select countries abroad for overseas voting, because doing the same in the Philippines where there are hundreds of voters in every polling precinct may cause delays and pose further logistical problems.

MIRU Systems vote counting machine Comelec George Garcia
The new election machines for 2025 have a touch-screen feature, but only Filipino voters in select countries abroad will be able to cast their vote this way. Jire Carreon/Rappler
Faster feeding of ballots

In past elections, the Comelec had specific instructions on how to feed the ballot into the machine.

Miru’s ACMs, as Comelec Chairman George Garcia demonstrated on Thursday, have an automatic feature so a voter does not have to precisely align the ballot into the paper feed.

He added that Miru’s machines can eat the ballot at a rate of 220 millimeters per second, compared to the 70 millimeters per second of Smartmatic’s VCMs.

Filipinos will use Comelec’s new voting machines in 2025. Here are the key features.
Thinner papers

The ballot papers for the 2025 elections will be 90 grams per square meter (GSM) in terms of thickness, compared to 162 GSM in the 2022 elections.

In 2019 elections, mishaps gripped the Comelec in mounting the polls, including ballot papers that felt thin and markers that bled.

So far, based on test voters’ experience during the Comelec demo at the Rappler headquarters on Thursday, the marking on one side of the ballot did not bleed through the opposite side when participants used Miru’s pens.

MIRU Systems vote counting machine Comelec George Garcia
REPRESENTATIVES from Rappler’s partner organizations fill out test ballots during Comelec’s demonstration of its new machines for the 2025 elections. Jire Carreon/Rappler
Summary of votes projected onto the screen, notification to complete vote

After voters feed their ballot into the machine, the screen – now wider, tilted, and with secrecy panels on both sides – will summarize the names of candidates they voted for. The machine will ask them to review their votes one last time before pressing “cast” on the screen. If they mistakenly undervote, voters have the option to reclaim the ballot already fed into the machine so they can fill out overlooked sections of their ballot.

MIRU Systems vote counting machine Comelec George Garcia
THE new machines for 2025 boast a bigger screen and secrecy panels on both sides. Jire Carreon/Rappler
QR code, built-in camera to scan the QR code, image of the accomplished ballot projected onto the ACM screen

Comelec Chairman Garcia has repeatedly acknowledged the concerns of election skeptics who would rather return to manual elections or shift to a hybrid system than continue with fully automated elections: how can they be sure that the machine correctly counts their vote?

While there have been numerous mechanisms in place – such as the checking of election returns as well as the random manual audit – the staunchest critics remain unsatisfied.

For the 2025 polls, once voters cast their ballot, the machine will still print a voter receipt which they can check to see if the machine read their ballot correctly. The receipt will also now have a QR code. They won’t be allowed to take a photo of that QR code, but once polls close, election workers have the capability to double-check if the result in the receipt matches that on the physical ballot.

Election workers simply have to scan the QR code using the built-in camera under the machine’s wide screen. Once done, the screen will show the image of the paper ballot that the voter accomplished.

Filipinos will use Comelec’s new voting machines in 2025. Here are the key features.

The Comelec said all the ballot images (minus the stub that will disclose the voter’s identity) will be flashed for 20 seconds each (possibly using a projector) after the closing of polls to allow election watchers to review if the electronic count of the machine matches their physical count of the ballots.

Built-in ballot box

In past elections, the voter receipts were dropped into yellow ballot boxes by voters. For 2025, the machines will have a built-in receptacle where the voters should insert their receipts.

MIRU Systems vote counting machine Comelec George Garcia
A BOX attached to the machine will contain voter receipts generated after a voter casts their ballot. Jire Carreon/Rappler

The Comelec has spent P17.9 billion for the lease of 110,000 new machines from Miru, as well as the delivery of canvassing laptops, printers, ballot papers, and other election supplies.

The poll body said leasing the machines instead of purchasing new ones is more cost-efficient since the poll body would no longer have to spend for warehousing once the elections are over, and could simply ship them back to the supplier. The commission won’t also be stuck with machines that would later become obsolete in the face of rapidly evolving technology.

Read other stories from Rappler’s ongoing coverage of the search for election technology providers in the 2025 midterms:

– Rappler.com

Are you a voter with questions and concerns about the upcoming 2025 elections? Rappler and the Commission on Elections have partnered to create the Voter Hotline chat room in the Rappler Communities app!

Directly ask Comelec staff questions or air concerns to the government body through this chat room. Download the app for free on App Store and Play Store, and find the chat room in the Community tab.

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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.