Absentee Voting System: Full of Flaws

The Absentee Voting System is riddled with flaws. Is there a way for the “Independent” Poll-watchers like NAMFREL or VforCE (Volunteers for Clean Elections) to count or safe-guard these ballots?

With so many things getting lost in the Philippine Postal System it may be a way for the “Politically desperate” to cheat. Even our International Express Mail System has no tracking capabilities as seen here from their website and so how will anyone keep track of these thousands of ballots?

Pinoys can’t vote in Italy; embassy has no ballots yet

SOME 70,000 Filipino workers in Rome have not yet received ballots that were supposed to have been mailed to them, a labor group said yesterday.

Umangat spokesman Rowena Flores said the delay has kept many Filipino workers in Rome uninformed about who the senatorial candidates were and what party-list groups were up for election.

Flores said embassy officials could not say when the ballots would arrive in Italy, adding workers may ask for an extension in the deadline for absentee voting.

A Department of Foreign Affairs official said the Overseas Absentee Voting Secretariat was checking with the embassy in Rome and the Commission on Elections, but a spokesman, Claro Cristobal, said all ballots had already been sent to Filipino workers overseas worldwide.

The Comelec yesterday came under fire for the poor turnout for overseas absentee voting, which began Saturday.

So far, only 2,220 Filipinos abroad—out of half a million registered worldwide—have cast their ballots.

Senator Richard Gordon said the low turnout was due to a failure by the Comelec to conduct an aggressive information campaign to encourage migrant workers to cast their votes, despite P248 million in funding set aside for that purpose.

“They don’t have any excuse. They had enough funds and the time necessary to conduct a successful overseas absentee voting,” Gordon said in a radio interview. “The Comelec should explain how they spent the funds meant for absentee voting.”

Earlier, Comelec Commissioner Florentino Tuason Jr. said the usual “last-minute syndrome” might account for the low turnout.

He also said a new requirement under the law—that voters execute a sworn statement that they would return to the Philippines to take up permanent residence after three years—kept many migrant workers away.

Cristobal yesterday said reports from embassies and consulates abroad showed that only 896 voters showed up on Saturday, while 1,049 showed up on Sunday to cast their ballots. Some 275 mailed their ballots, he added.

The first voter was Nicanora Maglinis, 56, a native of Maasin, Southern Leyte, who works in Palau.

Records show that 504,110 Filipinos have registered for overseas absentee voting worldwide. The largest numbers are in Hong Kong, Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, and Singapore. Of those, 142,634 are new registrants. Michael Caber and Roy Pelovello