Overseas voting ‘generally good’

Mayen Jaymalin - The Philippine Star

MANILA, Philippines – Despite minor glitches, the Commission on Elections (Comelec) yesterday declared as “generally good” the ongoing overseas absentee voting (OAV).

“So far so good,” Comelec Commissioner Arthur Lim said, referring to the OAV, which started on Saturday.

Lim said three vote counting machines (VCM) being used in Hong Kong, Dubai and Riyadh bogged down. But the Comelec has already addressed the situation to avoid disruption.

“To avoid interruption in voting, the voters will be allowed to cast or feed their ballots in other precincts where the rest of the VCMs are operating,” Lim said.

He said the three VCMs were shipped back to Manila for immediate replacement. One VCM will be deployed each to Hong Kong, Dubai and Riyadh, according to Lim.

The Comelec has adopted mixed voting in 17 Philippine posts overseas as provided for by a Comelec resolution.

Comelec Chairman Andres Bautista said Filipinos overseas can either cast their votes by mail or through personal voting.

“If you are a voter abroad, you have two options: you can either vote personally by going to the embassy or consulate, or you can mail your ballot,” Bautista said.

The selected Philippine posts are in Tokyo, Osaka, Seoul, Singapore, Rome, Milan, London, Madrid, Ottawa, Toronto, Vancouver, Washington, Agana, Chicago, Los Angeles, New York and San Francisco.

There are three methods of voting in the OAV – the manual personal voting, automated personal voting and postal voting.

Filipinos abroad will vote only for president, vice president, senators and party-list group.

Lim said Filipinos in Singapore posted the highest voters’ turnout with 1,200 casting their ballots on the first day of overseas voting.

He expressed confidence that the Comelec would meet the projected OAV voter turnout of 50 to 60 percent. 

The Comelec recorded a total of 1.3 million registered overseas absentee voters.

Transmission readiness test

The Comelec is set to hold a transmission readiness test to ensure efficient transmission of election results, according to Bautista.

“We will have this transmission readiness test, which, I think, will happen on the second week of April,” Bautista said.

“We want to see if we can accurately transmit the results on election day,” he added.

According to Bautista, they will use data from the site surveyed by Smartmatic International in selecting the areas where the test will be held..

“Smartmatic has conducted a site survey. So we have an idea which sites have strong signals and which telecommunication provider has a strong signal,” he said.

The Comelec will use the Subscriber Identity Module (SIM) cards with satellite-based Broadband Global Area Network as the main backup.

“We opted for more SIM cards because they cost less. But if there is a signal problem, we will use the satellites,” Bautista said.

The transmission capabilities of the automated election system became an issue in the 2013 midterm elections after only 76 percent of results were transmitted compared to 90 percent transmission rate in the 2010 polls.

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