Monday, April 18, 2016

More than 18,000 Pinoys cast votes on third day of overseas polling

More than 18,000 Filipinos abroad have cast their votes on the third day of overseas polling for this year’s 2016 national elections, with Hong Kong having the most number of voter turnout, the Department of Foreign Affairs said Monday.
A record-breaking 1.376 million Filipino voters have registered overseas, but despite the dismal turnout on the first three days of voting, Foreign Undersecretary Rafael Seguis said the numbers are expected to rise in the coming days.
Overseas Absentee Voting for Filipinos began on April 9.
“Our workers have to take time to go to the embassy to vote. For example in the Middle East, Friday is their only non-working day. But we expect a surge in voters in the final stretch of voting,” Seguis said in an interview.
As of 2:30 p.m. Monday, Hong Kong posted the highest voter turnout in Asia-Pacific with 4,851, followed by Singapore with 2,259. The Americas, which includes the United States, Canada and Latin America, had a total of 107 voters, 1,927 in Europe and 7,159 in Middle East and Africa.
The total number of voters for the four regions is 18,360, Seguis said.
About 10 million Filipinos - about a tenth of the entire population - work or reside abroad.
However, Seguis lamented the Philippine government still had difficulties convincing Filipinos to register and participate in the polls that was first implemented in 2004.
Political apathy and the residence status of the Filipinos result to low turnout of registration and voting.
Most of the Filipinos also live very far from the embassies and consulates.
Modes of voting
For the 2016 national elections, Philippine Foreign Service Posts have been authorized to implement one of the following modes of voting: Automated Election, Personal/Manual Voting, Postal Voting, and Modified Postal Voting.
The Automated Election System uses the current technology in the voting, counting, consolidating, canvassing and transmission of election results and other electoral processes. However, only 30 diplomatic posts with jurisdiction on at least 10,000 registered Filipino voters will implement this mode of voting.
Personal Voting is a mode of voting where voters personally appear to cast their votes manually at the Philippine Embassy or Consulate o such other voting areas designated by the Commission on Elections.
Postal Voting is another method of voting where mailing packets, containing the official ballot and other election paraphernalia, are sent to the voters through the mail. The voters either mail or personally deliver their accomplished ballot at the embassy, consultae or Comelec-designated voting areas.
Finally, Modified Postal Voting is a mode of voting where official ballots are sent directly in bulk to the embassy or consulaye from the Comelec. The voter may pick up the mailing packet from the Philippine diplomatic posts or it may be mailed to the voter. Voters may either email personally deliver the accomplished ballot to the embassy or consulate or other voting areas approved by the Comelec.
To increase awareness among Filipinos of the ongoing absentee voting, various diplomatic missions have turned to the internet through website uploads, blogs, social networking sites, and Filipino community/organization website uploads, Seguis said.
Seguis said the Department of Foreign Affairs is targeting an 80 percent turnout of Filipino overseas voters.
“Our Filipinos overseas should exercise their right to suffrage," he said. "A big number of votes will have an impact on the number of votes in the Philippines and our overseas Filipino workers are considered game-changers in the our political and democratic process."
Filipinos overseas have until 5 p.m. Manila time on May 9 to cast their votes. — RSJ, GMA News
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