Thursday, April 8, 2010

Pinoys in UK first to cast votes

By James Mananghaya
The Philippine Star
Updated April 09, 2010 12:00 AM

Original Story:

LONDON – It’s all systems go for the start of the month-long overseas absentee voting (OAV) on Saturday, the Philippine embassy here said.

Emmanuel Guzman, third secretary and vice consul, said they are not expecting any glitch in the OAV, which could draw more than 8,500 registered voters all over the country, the largest in Europe.

“We expect the process to be in order. We do advise registered voters to visit the embassy website for advisories, particularly those who have ballot envelopes for collection at the embassy, as well as to carefully follow the printed instructions on properly accomplishing a ballot,” Guzman said.

The Commission on Elections (Comelec) began mailing the election packets to registered voters last month, and the embassy is getting ready to officially receive mailed or dropped-in ballots beginning April 10.

Comelec prepared

Meantime, Comelec Commissioner Armando Velasco, chair of the Committee on Overseas Absentee Voting (COAV), said the poll body is prepared to hold the overseas absentee voting in a total of 93 posts in almost 180 countries worldwide starting tomorrow.

“We are already prepared and we have conducted the testing and sealing of the PCOS (precinct count optical scan) machines. Our team is already preparing to go to Hong Kong and Singapore to see the first day of the elections,” Velasco said in a press briefing yesterday.

Comelec said a total of 589,830 overseas Filipinos have registered to participate in the 2010 OAV, which will continue until May 10.

The Comelec official said they will coordinate with the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) for the holding of the OAV and the first automated OAV in Hong Kong and Singapore.

He said the OAV is set to use three modes of voting – postal voting, personal voting and the automated system.

While Hong Kong and Singapore are using the automated system, the poll official said that some 46 embassies and consulates-general are set to use postal voting while another 45 foreign posts will undertake personal voting.

Singapore and Hong Kong have been selected to utilize the PCOS machines because of the large number of registered voters, totaling 31,851 and 95,955, respectively.

Velasco said absentee voters can only vote for president, vice president, senators and party-list to be written on the OAV ballot form measuring 14 by 4.5 inches.

Absentee voters may cast their ballots from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. (the time of the host country) on Saturday.

For the succeeding days, however, voting will start at 8 a.m. and end at 6 p.m. (Philippine time). Foreign posts may adopt a flexible eight-hour schedule, according to an OAV resolution.

“After voting hours on May 10, canvassing shall follow at designated Philippine embassies. The respective chairmen of the special Board of Canvassers are then directed to transmit immediately the results of the canvassing to the Philippines via fax or other electronic means followed by personal delivery to the Philippines,” Velasco explained.

“Through the actual elections we will see whether or not this (automated system) really works. I think we will learn more about the process,” Velasco said.

Meanwhile, Velasco said they will be closely monitoring the more than 21,000 registered seafarers to avoid multiple voting since they are eligible to vote in any post.

“At the end of each voting day, each post shall report to the COAV the list of names of seafarers who have already voted. This will be communicated to all other posts in order to avoid double voting,” Velasco said. With Helen Flores

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