Cebu pilot area for voters’ identity verification system

By Rosalie O. Abatayo |December 09,2018 - 09:56 PM

Polling places in Cebu will be one of the pilot sites for a new system that is expected to deter incidence of flying voters and identity theft during the May 2019 midterm elections.

The voter’s verification and identification system, an enhancement of the vote counting machine that will be used in the automated voting, will verify if the voter who is asking for a ballot is indeed registered in the polling precinct.

“Before ka mo-vote, mag-biometrics ka to show that you are the same person nga naa sa voters list,” said Provincial Election Supervisor Lionel Marco Castillano.

The Commission on Elections (Comelec) in 2015 gathered the biometric data of voters as part of updating the list of registered voters in different provinces.

Castillano said the announcement that Cebu was chosen, along with other provinces in the National Capital Region (NCR) and Mindanao, to be the pilot area for the new feature of the VCM, came during the last meeting of election supervisors last November.

Castillano however said that not all polling places in Cebu may have the voters verification and identification system. He said they only identified Cebu province for the pilot testing but there is no clear order yet as to the specific Local Government Units where it will be implemented.

“If it will be successful, by 2022 siguro nationwide na ang implementation ani. The purpose of which is to do away with flying voters and those who claim the identity of another person in the voters list,” Castillano said.

Despite the presence of the new feature of the VCM, voters who would have finished casting their votes will still have to be tagged using indelible ink. Castillano said the verification and identification system will only sense if a person is a registered voter in the precinct but will not detect if he has cast his vote.

Comelec-Cebu province earlier reported an increase of over 200,000 in the province’s voting population since the May 2018 Barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan Elections (BSKE).

For the midterm elections, the total number of Cebuano voters is 3,082,621. Castillano said the number has already been validated as free from double entries.

Cebu City remains to be the most vote-rich LGU in the province with 709,608 voters combined from the north and south districts.

Mandaue City has the second largest number of voters with 226,091 followed by Lapu-Lapu City with 214,117 voters.

The voting population of the island of Cebu was 2.8 million during the 2018 BSKE making it the most vote-rich island in the country. This included Cebu City and Lapu-Lapu City, whose voters cannot vote for the provincial officials such as the governor and vice governor. Castillano said they have not confirmed yet if Cebu remains the top vote-rich province for 2019.

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