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.58M absentee voters register for 2010 polls

Posted on: December 18, 2009

.58M absentee voters register for 2010 polls
By Anna Valmero
INQUIRER.net First Posted 19:26:00 12/17/2009 Filed Under: Overseas Absentee Voting, Eleksyon 2010

MANILA, Phiippines—The Commission on Elections (Comelec) registered over half a million Filipinos abroad as absentee voters for the 2010 elections, an official said Thursday.

There are 589,830 overseas absentee voters who were approved for the 2010 elections with 224, 884 new OAVs applicants who enlisted between February and August, said Comelec Commissioner and head of committee on overseas absentee voting (COAV) Armando Velasco during the joint congressional committee on automated elections.

“From 364,946 active overseas absentee voters between 2003 and 2007, we have registered 224,000 more making the total number of OAVs at 589, 830,” said Velasco on Senate Thursday.

The figures is up from 504,124 absentee voters who registered between 2003 and 2004, of which over 134,000 have been delisted for withdrawal of records and failure to vote in two previous elections, Velasco told INQUIRER.net in an interview.

Comelec was unable to meet the target of enlisting one million absentee voters for 2010 because Filipinos had to take a one-day leave at work and travel to Philippine posts to register while some countries prohibit assembly or congregation of Filipinos, said Velasco. He added though that COAV and the Department of Foreign Affairs conducted several field registration in areas where at least 200 to 500 Filipinos meet up on weekends to augment their registration efforts in RP posts.

“Although we have not reached the earlier target set by Comelec Commissioner Nicodemo Ferrer, the former COAV chairman, having over half a million absentee voters is a significant vote to make national candidates—president, vice president or senator—win in the 2010 elections,” said Velasco.

The poll official added that Comelec would pilot automated polls in Hong Kong and Singapore after the two registered the highest turnout of absentee voters enlistment at 95,355and 31,853, respectively.

“Aside from high turnout of voters’ registration, the two were chosen because of their proximity to the country. These are factors that we highly consider if we want to pilot automated polls for Filipinos abroad because we have to factor in travel and living costs of the personnel to man the voting centers from April 10 up to May 10, 2010 elections,” said Velasco, noting the provision in Republic Act 9189 or the overseas absentee voting law that allows early voting for OAVs.

“Holding a pilot of the automated polls in Hong Kong and Singapore would also allow us to gain foresight in implementing our nationwide computerized elections,” added Velasco.

Results from each posts, however, would be consolidated and electronically transmitted to Comelec servers only on Election Day. Talks for the configurations for the poll machines to implement this are ongoing, the poll official added.

The Comelec COAV has already sent out letters to all Philippine posts and consulates abroad, except for those in Hong Kong and Singapore, to determine if absentee voters within their jurisdiction would vote personally or via postal service, said Velasco.

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