The Office of the Spokesperson of the Commission on Elections (Comelec) launched today a website and mobile application to help inform, educate, and empower voters for the coming May national and local elections.
Both dubbed e-Leksyon 2013, the free website and mobile application were developed jointly by Comelec and Bitoopi, a group of young programmers from Smart Communications, Inc. (Smart). The team voluntarily developed and donated the service for Comelec’s use. The initiative is supported by the Smart Developer Network, Smart¹s developer community program.
The highlight of the features of the mobile app is the simulation of filling out of a sample ballot as this will help voters know and practice the proper way of shading the forms.
The web interface also allows users to learn more about Comelec campaign rules, find the nearest precinct, and report election campaign violations through sending of reports and photos.
Users who submit reports are sent a validation code by Comelec for verification of identity. Only verified reports are published online by Comelec.
The website can be accessed through http://report.mycomelec.tv by anyone with an Internet connection through various devices such as desktop, tablets, and mobile phones via web browsing.
The mobile app version allows the same functionalities. At the same time, users can also use the app even in areas without mobile Internet signal by allowing saving of the report in the user’s 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 proper authorities from Comelec for further appropriate action. Both website and mobile app are administered and maintained by Comelec with technical assistance from Bitoopi.
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.
“As we move closer to the May 13 elections, we see the informational and educational features such as the practice sample ballot will be important in making sure that your vote will count. We hope that this can be an additional channel for voters education,” said Director James Jimenez, Spokesperson for Comelec.
“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. We’re happy to support this spirit of volunteerism in Smart,” said Ramon R. Isberto, Smart public affairs group head.
The service was born out of social media interactions. Paul Pajo, Smart DevNet evangelist, responded to a Twitter post by Comelec spokesperson James Jimenez about the need of Comelec for such services for the public. Pajo shared this information to the Smart DevNet community.
The team from 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. 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,” said Jim Ayson, senior manager for partner management and developer relations at Smart.
As part of its advocacy of enabling citizen participation and good governance for the elections, Smart has also stepped up its support as technology partner for various media and citizen groups. It has existing partnerships with Interaksyon and the Student Council Alliance of the Philippines for 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 the PLDT group, also provided connectivity and technology support to ABS-CBN and GMA 7. Arrangements 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 elections as a crucial voter education tool that will ensure a more meaningful voting experience for the Filipino electorate.