By Don Tagala, ABS CBN North America Bureau

May 15, 2013

Washington DC – If it were solely up to Filipino absentee voters in America, the top twelve candidates who will sit in the Philippine Senate, based on partial unofficial count would be: Chiz Escudero, Alan Peter Cayetano, Grace Poe, Loren Legarda, Koko Pimentel, Ramon Magsaysay Jr., Edgardo Angara, Richard Gordon, Risa Hontiveros, Antonio Trillanes, and Migs Zubiri.

First to arrive at the Special Board of Canvass (SBOC) in Washington DC is Consul Bong Carino who delivered election returns from 6 SBEI precints from the New York Consulate.

“This is precisely to ensure the security and safety and integrity of the election results coming from the different Consulates and their Jurisdiction,” Carino said.

Election Inspectors from 5 other consular posts from Honolulu, Chicago, Los Angeles, San Fancisco and Washington DC also turned in their respective returns.

SBOC Chief Shien Escoto Tesorero is tentatively scheduled to personally deliver all these canvassed returns to the Philippine Commission on Elections (COMELEC) in Manila on May 16th.

A total of 13976 Filipinos voted in the US & Caribbean out of 125,604 registered voters– a dismal voter turnout of 11%

SBOC’s Arlene Magno said this is not surprising as it was not a presidential election. What bothers her, however, is the fact that hundreds of ballots came in after the polls closed on Monday morning.

In New York alone, about 200 ballots were rendered invalid because it did not make the 6:59 AM absolute cut off time.

“Maybe we should consider giving us abroad a longer time, you know, maybe not just 1 month, make it two months,” Magno said, “Let’s give them more time para siguro busy sa work, nakakaligtaan, sometimes nga delayed ang ballot.”

As an advocate for the use of internet technology to modernize overseas absentee voting, Hawaii Consul General Julius Torres is pushing for online or electronic voting to increase overseas voter turnout, especially in the 2016 presidential elections.

“Talagang dapat magtiwala tayo sa makabagong teknolohiya, na of course lalagyan din natin ng checks at ang pinakamahalaga ay pababain natin ang cost per overseas voter,” Torres said.

Vice Consul Ric Abejuela of the Philippine Consulate in Chicago added that online voting can also help solve the problem of lost ballots due to mislabeling or when a voter has moved to a new home.

“The next evolutionary step in overseas voting would be online voting,” Abejuela said, “Once you register, parang website yan eh, parang email yan like web-based email, kahit saan ka sa mundo as long as you have your password and your username you can log on.”

“In the US, I think you can pilot that here kasi almost everybody is online, so this is a good place to pilot, siyempre before you go worldwide,” Magno added.

There is a pending electronic online voting bill in the Philippine Congress and many consular officials who gathered at the Philippine Embassy in Washington DC believe that there is no reason why COMELEC should not explore this possibility in time for the 2016 presidential elections.

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  • simonjames
    25 June 2013 at 12:20 am - Reply

    Computerizing registration furthermore assists with the age-old difficulty of clerks having to decipher handwriting on forms topped up out with pen and paper. Computerized registration is one thing. As for actual online voting.