By Steve Angeles, ABS-CBN North America Bureau
May 14, 2013
LOS ANGELES–In their team t-shirts, the day began at 2am Monday morning and they managed to finish counting some 3,654 ballots by Monday evening. But by the end their spirits remained high. “This comes easier with better preparation and because it does not involve presidential contenders, preparation is a little easier,” said Vice Consul John Reyes who oversees the absentee voting process in the LA consular post.
This was the same scenario in all Philippine consular offices across the United States.
On most days the 36-person consular staff assists Filipinos with their needs from passports to dual citizenship and other assistance, but for one full day everyone was a Special Election Board Inspector.
In order to count the most ballots submitted in the Americas, 3 staff members were each assigned to 9 counting stations, while a handful acted as runners making sure everyone was well and energized fed.
“We had two seminars for this and everyone was well informed and well aware of the responsibilities they had to do,” explained Reyes.
Throughout the day consular officials had to turn down many visitors looking for regular services.
On Tuesday morning, the special elections team members will go back to their regular consulate duties during their normal business times.
In San Francisco, Consul General Marciano Paynor, who oversaw an efficient and well organized count said there are lessons from the 2013 overseas absentee voting experience that hopefully, overseas Filipinos will heed when they return to the polls in 2016.
“The next presidential elections will be very crucial in convincing the Filipino-American community to take an active role in governance and in making a difference in their country,” Paynor said.
-with reports from Nadia Trinidad
You may contact Steve Angeles at firstname.lastname@example.org