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DICT prepares for 2022 elections with AES tech fair

The Philippines’ Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT) gathered concepts to be considered for the 2022 National and Local Elections (NLE) during the recent Automated Election System (AES)Technology fair.

According to a recent press release, the forum and exhibit was founded on the overriding principle of “One Citizen, One Vote, One Count”.

The AES Tech Fair

The event highlighted the need to improve transparency and ensure that every vote is counted through a new and improved AES that can be utilised for 2022 NLE.

The DICT Secretary explained that the tech fair served as a platform for the stakeholders to address inquiries and concerns.

Moreover, it also provided the opportunity to put forward suggestions for improvement as well as jumpstart a comprehensive approach to the alternative AES.

The Commission on Elections (COMELEC) and its citizen-arm, National Citizens’ Movement for Free Elections (NAMFREL), participated in the event.

At least four technology service providers reportedly participated during the exhibit.

Showcasing AES technologies

The COMELEC spokesperson shared that the various exhibitors presented both new technologies and new implementations of old technologies.

He added that all these solutions show great promise and that the Commission will be evaluating each one to see how well they meet the Philippines’ unique circumstances.

The DICT’s Vote Tallying Machines (VTM) concept was presented during the event.

As explained, the concept merges new and traditional processes by using manual counting and a unique QR code to faithfully reflect the voting results.

Through the Optical Mark Recognition (OMR), the machine will capture, process, and display a digital ballot image on a screen for visual confirmation of the voter.

Election inspectors, in addition, will help facilitate the validation as well as monitor for discrepancies. The VTM will be displaying the running total tally.

Benefits of the VTM concept were shared. For one, it will improve the transparency of vote appreciation at the precinct level, while at the same time, retaining the previous transmission process.

Aside from providing transparency, the system will shorten the voting time for the people and simplify the workflow.

Proposing varied concepts

Several concepts were also proposed during the event.

These concepts featured various methodologies that incorporated the use of blockchain technology, two-factor authentication solutions, and encryption security systems, among others.

The AES concepts aimed to promote accuracy of results and decrease vulnerability to cheating.

Another key focus was to eliminate the logistical concerns in transmission and tallying, such as addressing device failure issues.

Each presenter was given an opportunity to demonstrate their concept and prototype. Similarly, the audience was given the chance to input comments and suggestions regarding the presentations.

The technology fair gave the Commission an opportunity to see what is available out there, in terms of modern election solutions.

It provided them with solutions that they have yet to see and showed them new strategies in using existing technologies.

Sitting as the chair of the COMELEC Advisory Council (CAC), the Department will be providing recommendations to COMELEC on the appropriate technology to be used for the 2022 NLE.

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