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Philippines launches app to fast-track biometric voter registration

biometric fingerprint data

The Commission on Elections (Comelec), the body managing elections in the Philippines, has unveiled an application intended to speed up the biometric voter registration process in the country ahead of general elections next year.

Comelec authorities say the app, which was launched on June 15, will help citizens quickly complete their registration online before visiting a local Comelec office for the capture of their biometrics to conclude the registration procedure, Rappler reports.

The online registration is a pilot which concerns all Filipinos except those in Metro manila and those overseas, as Comelec officials have stated that it is meant to be trialed in areas with relatively poor internet connectivity. In all, Comelec offices in 575 towns and cities are concerned with the process, Rappler states. Comelec says its target is four million new potential voters for the national elections slated for May 9, 2022.

Citing an instructional video released by Comelec regarding the app and how it can be used to register, the news outlet mentions a couple of things which potential registrants can do or not do in order to successfully fill the online form.

Among other things, the app, which can be used without any internet connection, cannot be downloaded from Google Playstore and can only be obtained by the applicant visiting a local Comelec office to receive it via Bluetooth or SHAREit app. Also, the app can only work on an Android smartphone.

According to Comelec, once the online application has been completed, a QR code is generated for the applicant, which is what they present to the local office at the time of their biometric capture, Rappler explains.

Above all, Comelec has assured the public that all data collected on the app is safe from any breaches.

“All the information you put into the digital form is stored in an encrypted QR code. No data will be sent because it remains in your cellphone. So, there is no possible way of a hacking incident or any getting of information because it stays in your phone’s galleries,” Comelec Commissioner Marlon Casquejo was quoted as saying.

Meanwhile, as the online registration process in ongoing, Comelec authorities have urged citizens of voting age to go for the registration before the deadline runs out on September 30.

Comelec provincial election supervisor Ericson Oganiza told Big News Network the process takes place from Monday to Saturday every week, including holidays, and that satellite registration centers have been extended to reach many more applicants.

The official assured that in order to keep people safe from COVID-19 infection, measures have been put in place to avoid overcrowding, with emphasis laid on the online registration method using the newly launched app, the report adds. Oganiza said between January and March, 451,919 new registrations were approved by Comelec.

Digital voting part of Pakistan’s proposed electoral reforms

Consultations are ongoing among stakeholders in Pakistan as the country looks to reform its electoral system, The Express Tribune writes.

Amendments to the electoral law, the putting in place of a biometric system and the introduction of digital voting and online voting are included in the reforms, Information Minister Fawad Chaudhry said.

“We discussed the proposed legislation for electoral reforms, electronic voting machines (EVMs), biometric system and i-voting. It was decided that the minister of science and technology will present a demonstration on the EVMs to the ECP, and then the authority will appoint a consultant to generate an opinion in the matter,” Chaudhry was quoted as saying.

The Minister said the government has also decided to make it possible for Pakistanis living overseas to enjoy voting rights as they bring significant contributions to the development of the nation.

The EVMs are said to have already been developed, with some technical fine-tuning being done on them.

Another report by The Express Tribune quotes Minister Chaudhry as saying he personally is not in support of online voting for Pakistanis overseas, but prefers postal voting.

He said the latter option would be safer, but added that in any case, government will settle for the best alternative as it seeks to make the 2023 elections transparent and hitch-free, the report notes.

Haitians in Dominican Republic receive ID cards ahead of polls

More than 50,000 Haitians who are legal residents in the Dominican Republic have already received their biometric identity cards so they can participate in elections in their country, Houstonian Online reports.

The outlet cites a statement from the Haitian embassy in the Dominican Republic as saying that the service is free of charge and called on more Haitians who wish to register to do so.

The registration of Haitians who are legal residents of the Dominican Republic is carried out, including biometric enrollment, at Haitian embassies, and distribution of the ID cards takes place every weekend.

The elections include a referendum on a constitutional amendment, parliamentary and presidential elections as well as municipal and local polls, Houstonian says.

Nigeria to begin preregistration for biometric enrollment

The Independent Electoral Commission (INEC) of Nigeria is opening an online portal to enable people to preregister, ahead of biometrics collection at a state or local government office, The Nation reports.

The online registration portal is schedule to launch on June 28. The timeline for in-person registration is expected to be announced soon, following consultation with stakeholders.

Article: Philippines launches app to fast-track biometric voter registration

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