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Comelec eyes improvement of overseas absentee voting system

Carina Roncesvalles - The Philippine Star

HONG KONG — Commission on Elections (Comelec) Chairman Sixto Brillantes Jr. is looking at improving the system of overseas absentee voting (OAV) in preparation for the 2016 presidential elections.

Speaking to Filipino community leaders in Hong Kong, Brillantes said the Comelec will adopt online voting to encourage more overseas Filipinos to exercise their right to vote.

“We hope to do something for the OAV,” he said.

“We are also looking at changes and revisions to our party-list system and the anti-dynasty.”

Hong Kong’s list of registered voters totaled 115,088, but the allocated ballots for the Chinese territory remained at 83,147.

A total of 536 voters cast their ballots in the first day of the OAV the other day at the Bayanihan Kennedy Town Centre in Hong Kong.

Most Filipinos are expected to vote during their day-off on Sunday and on the last days of the one-month OAV.

Ten voters were unable to vote the other day.

Vice Consul Charles Macaspac said the names of most of them were not in the official list of voters.

Two ballots had been spoiled because a pen blotted the paper, he added.

Deputy Consul General Rosanna Villamor-Voogel said these cases had been reported to the Comelec in Manila for verification and advice for further action.

Brillantes said an extra ballot may be given in certain cases when the spoilage of the ballot was not caused by the voter.

OAV advocate and community leader Daphne Ceniza-Kuok said the quality of the ballot paper may have caused the ink blotting.

The pen may be replaced if the ballot’s paper quality actually caused the ink blotting, she added.

Brillantes said it would become a problem if paper quality had caused the ballot spoilage.

“Maybe we can have modification on rules if necessary,” he said.

“We might allow giving second ballot on certain cases. We can look at alternatives.”

The two voters may be asked to return to the precinct after final assessment of their cases, he added.

On the first day of OAV, voting went smoothly despite the cost-cutting measures.

The number of PCOS machines had been reduced from 20 to nine despite the increase in the number of registered voters.

Brillantes said the measures had to be implemented due to budget constraints.

“We cannot increase the number of PCOS machines,” he said.

“The purchase is very limited. We didn’t buy additional machines. We are using the same PCOS machines we used in 2010. There was an increase in the number of registered voters in the Philippines.”

The PCOS machine is fast enough to accommodate more voters at any given time, he added.

Brillantes said the indelible ink will no longer be used for the OAV.

Since OAV will run for one month, the use of indelible ink to prevent cheating had become impractical, he added.

Brillantes said the number of absentee voters is a controlled bloc and prospects of having flying voters are unlikely.

“You are voting only for national candidates,” he said.

“Based on historical data, cheating happens in the local elections. The local race is tight for governor, mayor and other positions. This is where double voting happens. – With Christina Mendez

 

 

 

BAYANIHAN KENNEDY TOWN CENTRE BRILLANTES CHAIRMAN SIXTO BRILLANTES JR. COMELEC DAPHNE CENIZA-KUOK DEPUTY CONSUL GENERAL ROSANNA VILLAMOR-VOOGEL HONG KONG MOST FILIPINOS OAV VOTERS
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