MANILA, Philippines – The Commission on Elections (Comelec) and Smart Communications, Inc., (Smart) on Wednesday launched a website and mobile application, both dubbed e-Leksyon 2013, to help inform, educate and empower voters for May 13, 2013 national and local elections.
The free website and mobile application were developed jointly by Comelec and Bitoopi, a group of young programmers from Smart, who voluntarily developed and donated the service for the poll body’s use. The initiative is supported by the Smart Developer Network, Smart’s developer community program.
“The team behind Bitoopi who generously gave their time and effort to make the official e-Leksyon services for Comelec are young voters and quite representative of a new generation of ‘apptivist’ developers who make apps and services for social good,” said Ramon R. Isberto, Smart public affairs group head. “We’re happy to support this spirit of volunteerism in Smart.”
The website can be accessed through by anyone with an internet connection through various devices such as desktop, tablets, and mobile phones via web browsing.
The Comelec’s e-Leksyon 2013 mobile app is now initially available for iOS devices through the Apple iTunes app store. Availability for the Android version for smartphones will be announced soon.
Among the highlight of the features of the mobile app are:
- The simulation of filling out of a sample ballot – This will help voters know and practice the proper way of shading the forms. Ballots image is generated, can be saved, and can be viewed at My Ballot;
- Precinct finder – Highlight parameters needed to find voter’s precinct and results are saved for user’s reference later on, and can be viewed at My Precinct;
- Campaign E-Learning – Current module contains details on what the campaign violations are;
- Reporting of violation – This features on how to report violation to the Comelec, where user can select various violation on the menu, and then click on Next. User can also select from list of senators, and report local and party-list candidates by clicking on the manual edit button.
Meanwhile, the mobile app version allows the same functionaries. At the same time, users can also use the app even in areas without internet signal by allowing saving of the report in the users’ device and sending it at a later time once mobile internet signal is available.
Photos and reports are stored in the web server for access by Comelec for further appropriate action. Both website and mobile app are administered and maintained by Comelec with technical assistance from Bitoopi.
Nick Wilwayco, of Smart public affairs group, said that images in My Ballot can be saved and printed for voter’s reference inside the polling precinct.
“For the ballot simulation, you saved that and bring the picture inside the precinct upang hindi makalimutan ang ibinoboto mo [so you won't forget who you voted],” she said.
Paul Pajo, Smart DevNet evangelist, said that “what is also unique in the application is that all features are in one app. So you don’t need to switch from one app to other site.”
“It is an image file, at the same time the violations are there, so you can report a violation. Di ba normally you see violations, paano ko ire-report [how can you report], now if you have the phone, and you see the violation, you can report it and the phone actually captures the location,” he further said.
Pajo added that the service was born out of social media interaction, when he responded to a Twitter post by Comelec spokesperson James Jimenez about the need of the poll body for such services for the public. He shared this information to the Smart DevNet Community.
So, the team for Smart made a prototype and presented to Comelec, and both groups refined the service according to Comelec requirements. Smart management allowed the employees to work on the project and provided technical development support and resources through Smart DevNet.
“It’s a great example of mobile developers lending their skills to help the country,” said Jim Ayson, senior manager for partner management and developer relations at Smart. “We’d like to encourage more examples of volunteerism and public service among members of our developer community. If software developers want to apply their skills to help solve national problems, the community is here to help them,”
For his part, Comelec Chairman Sixto Brillantes Jr., expressed his gratitude with amazement on the comprehensive applications that features not only precinct locator but also includes voters education and violations.
“With the sacrifice given by Smart, lalo na ang mga developer, malaki ang pasasalamat namin at nakakataba ng puso kapag nakakakita kami ng mga nagsasakripisyo, [particularly from those of the developers, we give them our big thanks, and it warms the heart especially when we see these types of sacrifices] to come out and help us since we really need the help and assistance of everybody specially the private sector,” Brillantes said.
As part of its advocacy of enabling citizen participation and good governance for the election, Smart has also stepped up its support as technology partner for various media and citizen groups. It has existing partnership with InterAksyon and the Student Council Alliance of the Philippines for the first time voters through #YouthVote2013; blogwatch.ph for#juanvote, a call for citizen and social media advocates; Sunstar Cebu; and Rappler’s #votesmart campaign.
Smart, as part of tyhe PLDT group, also provided connectivity and technology support to ABS-CBN and GMA-7. Arrangement are also being made for electoral watch groups such as the Philippine Pastoral Council for Responsible Voting (PPCRV).
The Comelec aims to promote e-Leksyon during the run-up to the election as a crucial voter education tool that will ensure a more meaningful voting experience for the Filipino electorate.
InterAksyon.com is the online news portal of TV5, which is part of the PLDT group.