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Highest overseas voter turnout in Hong Kong

Sheila Crisostomo - The Philippine Star

MANILA, Philippines - Filipinos abroad were urged to go out and vote as Hong Kong reported the highest voter turnout at more than 2,500 on the second day of overseas absentee voting (OAV) yesterday.

Singapore reported 164 voters last Saturday, and Riyadh in Saudi Arabia 149.

As of yesterday, the Commission on Elections (Comelec) said the consulate in Hong Kong and the embassies in Singapore, Riyadh, London in the United Kingdom, Brunei, and Abu Dhabi in the United Arab Emirates and the representative office in Taichung in Taiwan have submitted their written reports.

The elections in Hong Kong, Singapore and Riyadh are automated, while in London, Brunei, Abu Dhabi and Taichung postal and personal voting are being implemented.

Lawyer Jane Valeza, a member of the Comelec’s absentee voting committee, said the poll body and the Department of Foreign Affairs will continue the information drive to encourage Filipinos abroad to vote.

Filipino communities abroad are helping them in the campaign, she added.

Last Saturday, the month-long OAV started in all Philippine embassies and consulates.

In Jeddah in Saudi Arabia, voting will start tomorrow.

The Philippine diplomatic post in London had already received around 300 ballots through postal voting, Brunei 26 and Abu Dhabi 126.

The Comelec will expand coverage of the automated elections from two to seven areas in the hope that voter turnout will increase to 60 percent from the 25 percent in the 2010 polls.

Bleeding pens have disrupted the OAV in Hong Kong and the Comelec sees cold weather as the possible cause.

Chairman Sixto Brillantes said one PCOS machine had started rejecting smudged ballots after 90 runs last Saturday.

“Personally I’m not making any conclusion,” he said.

“I leave it up to our technical people. But for me, maybe cold weather had something to do with this. The ink didn’t dry up well.”

Ink from the pens of voters had smudged the ballots.

The PCOS machine was replaced with an extra unit that also had the same problem last Sunday.

Brillantes said the Comelec has contingency measures in case the problem occurs in other parts of the world.

They already replaced the two affected PCOS machines with units coming from Manila, he added.

Brillantes said voter turnout in OAV is low so they were able to replace the smudged ballots with new ones.

“Our estimate is that there will be no 100 percent turnout,” he said.

“In fact we reviewed the history of Hong Kong and we found out that in 2010, there were 82,000 registered voters, but only 44,000 actually voted. So there were many excess ballots.”

ABU DHABI ABU DHABI AND TAICHUNG BRILLANTES BRUNEI CHAIRMAN SIXTO BRILLANTES COMELEC DEPARTMENT OF FOREIGN AFFAIRS HONG KONG HONG KONG AND THE COMELEC SAUDI ARABIA
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