Comelec OKs online voting for OFWs for May 2025 polls

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, May 17) — The Commission on Elections (Comelec) on Wednesday green-lighted electronic or internet voting for overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) for the national and local elections in May 2025.

"We approved the policy direction and therefore we are now to prepare the roadmap for Electronic Voting for Overseas Filipinos," Comelec chairman George Garcia said.

Garcia added that Comelec’s goal is higher overseas voter turnout.

In a press statement, the Comelec said it approved the online mode of voting based on Republic Act No. 10590 or the Overseas Voting Act of 2013, which gives the poll body the authority to explore other modes or systems using automated election system, and RA No. 9189 or The Overseas Absentee Voting Act of 2003.

“[W]ith the additional authority granted to the Commission under Republic Act No. 10590 vis-a-vis its stronger implementing authority, 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,” the Comelec said.

Comelec spokesperson Rex Laudiangco said the go signal is also based on RA No. 9369, which mandated an automated election system.

"Based on RAs 9369 and 10590, the Commission is of the opinion it is empowered to do so even without prior legislation," Laudiangco told CNN Philippines.

Laudiangco stated that the approval of internet voting for OFWs is for implementation in the national and local elections in May 2025.

The Comelec was directed to study and explore the use of internet to cast votes for OFWs as early as the enactment of RA 9189 in 2003, according to Laudiangco.

He added that RA 9369 authorized the poll body to use an automated election system "as it may deem appropriate and practical."

"Then came RA 10590, again expressly mentioning, and unequivocally stating that voting may be done either personally, by mail, or by any other means as may be determined by the Commission, and that internet based technology or whatever latest technology may be explored,” he explained.

The Comelec did not include online voting in the 2022 national elections, but it made test runs for the 2025 polls that yielded "promising" results.