Monday, March 14, 2016

No final details yet on PHL overseas voting in Saipan

No final information is available yet if there will be a field voting on Saipan for the 2016 Philippine Presidential Elections, exactly one month before the overseas voting period begins.
According to Consul Gary Auxilian of the Philippine Consulate General in Guam, who also chairs their Special Board of Election Inspectors committee, they are in discussion with the Philippine Department of Foreign Affairs with regards to conducting field voting for the overseas election period which will begin next month.
"We were requested by DFA home office if we can suggest possible schedule to conduct field voting in our areas of jurisdiction. We recommended that we want to conduct field voting in Saipan and another one in Palau later on, but we are still waiting for the approval of [the Philippine] Commission on Elections on that," Auxilian said.
Auxilian said they recommended the third or fourth week of April and four days of field voting for Saipan.
"That’s what we’re hoping for," he said. "Most likely, there will be a [field voting]. Given the number of overseas voters here, I think Comelec will grant it. We are really hoping and we have strongly recommended to conduct field voting here in Saipan."
There are about 11,900 registered Filipino voters in the PCG-Guam’s jurisdiction, which includes Guam, the CNMI, Republic of Palau, Federated States of Micronesia, and the Republic of Marshall Islands
In the CNMI alone, there are more or less 5,000 registered voters, even more than Guam which has about 3,000 voters.
"We still don’t know what Comelec’s instruction is but we do have a one-month period of voting abroad," Auxilian said.
The entire overseas voting period for the Philippine elections will start on April 9 and will last until May 9—the actual Election Day in the Philippines.
Auxilian said PCG-Guam has received the automated vote-counting machine, which will be stationed in Guam, just last week.
"We don’t know also if we’re bringing in the automated vote counting machine here but most likely we won’t be allowed because it might get damaged," Auxilian said.
He added that it is most likely that they will be bringing the accomplished ballots from Saipan to Guam, and feed them later on to the machine.
Meanwhile, Auxilian reminded Filipinos in the CNMI to check if they are included on the official list of voters.
"The voter’s ID is not an assurance that they can vote. Registered voters should check if they are included in the certified list of overseas voters that can be found in the Comelec’s website, comelec.gov.ph," Auxilian said.
He added that anyone included on the list, even without their voter’s ID, can vote.
"There are others were deleted because they were not able to vote during the last two consecutive elections," Auxilian said. —Saipan Tribune

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