Change in absentee voting procedure in Canada could lead to disenfranchisement

By Marieton Pacheco, ABS-CBN North America Bureau

VANCOUVER – Election materials for the May polls are here, but unlike past elections, consulate officials can’t send ballots to registered voters just yet.

Kababayans need to notify them first if they want their ballots mailed through a request form made available at the consulate’s website and office.

With both automated elections and modified postal voting happening across North America this year, registered absentee voters have the option to either vote in person or by mail, like in the past elections.

“We are seeking updates so that they won’t need to inform us,” said Consul General Neil Frank Ferrer. “We will just send the ballot to them but at the moment that is the instruction we got, that’s why we published it in our website.”

It is something many voters haven’t even heard of, despite the embassy and consulate’s announcement on their website.

One of the voters said she just heard about the announcement recently.

“I’m planning to come to the Philippine Consulate to vote personally, so I can experience how to drop it in the ballot box,” she said.

It’s making officials worried about the possible disenfranchisement among absentee voters, especially those just waiting for their ballots in the mail.

Ferrer said once they will automatically send the ballots once they receive advise from Comelec.

More than 33,000 overseas absentee voters have registered in Vancouver for the coming May elections, the highest OAV registration in Canada.

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