Comelec: Trial online voting results 'promising’ despite connectivity issues

enablePagination: false
maxItemsPerPage: 10
maxPaginationLinks: 10

Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, September 13) — It was a star-studded first online voting dry run of the Commission on Elections.

Hollywood A-listers and athletes served as "candidates" in the online ballots prepared by American firm Voatz, Inc., which saw actress Angelina Jolie elected president, Batman star Christian Bale as vice president, and Korean boy group BTS as one of 11 party-list winners.

The mock election was the first of three test runs of internet voting held Sept. 11-13, with results canvassed two hours after polls closed.

Of 669 volunteers, 348 voted on mobile, website, and assisted kiosks for two days for a 52.01% turnout.

"This looks promising because traditionally, we never go beyond 50% when it comes to voters who actually voted for overseas voting," Comelec Director for Overseas Voting Bea Wee-Lozada said in a Monday briefing.

CNN Philippines signed up for a test voter slot two weeks ago. Personal data such as name, address, mobile number, email, were verified twice. A voter also has to upload a passport photo and live selfie in the Voatz platform.

Voting opened at 8 a.m. of Saturday, with foreign celebrities like Justin Bieber, Mariah Carey, Lady Gaga, LeBron James, Aerosmith, and The Beatles as candidates.

A "none of the above" option has been included per position for those abstaining, and there's a prompt whenever a voter chooses too many candidates per post. A plebiscite-type question was also included, where "yes" votes won in terms of making COVID-19 vaccinations mandatory.


Voatz CEO & co-founder Nimit Sawhney said common problems were outdated and malware-infected gadgets as well as slow internet connection, which made it hard for some test voters to proceed.

The developer also noted 487 security threats during the voting period. However, Voatz said safeguards are in place as it disputed findings of researchers from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) that their blockchain-based app is prone to hacking.

The company said the MIT findings were "very theoretical" and none of them successfully broke into the Voatz system.

"We did not see anybody successfully break into the system or any of the mobile applications," Sawhney also said of the trial voting run with Comelec. "We feel very confident about the detection and the sensing of these threats."


The poll body said it is targeting to use the online voting system for some 1.5 million overseas Filipino voters in the 2025 midterm election.

"I think it is efficient in a sense that it did not take much of the time as compared to how you would do voting traditionally," Comelec Director for Overseas Voting Sonia Bea Wee-Lozada said.

"(For) seafarers who may not be on land during the time of the voting period, the internet voting system will be very much convenient and efficient for them. Also, for our overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) who may not be able to take day off to visit the embassies," she added.

A 15- to 30-day voting period may be considered for OFWs if Congress allows internet voting through the passage of a new law.

Currently, Filipinos abroad cast their ballots by personal appearance before Philippine consulates and embassies or by mail-in voting, where they pay for the return postal fees.

RELATED: OFW voters given more time to transfer voter records to PH