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Heavy rain fails to dampen 4,000 voters' enthusiasm

11 April 2016

Heavy rain pelted Hong Kong yesterday, Apr 10, but that did not stop about 4,000 Filipinos from going to Bayanihan Center in Kennedy Town to cast their votes for the 2016 Philippine national elections.

The voting went on smoothly even as only nine vote counting machines were operating after one of the 10 shipped by the Commission on Elections to  Hong Kong conked out on Day One of the vote. 

As a remedial measure, Consulate officials replaced the defective VCM in precinct No 6 with the unit in precinct No. 10, and directed voters of both precincts to cast their ballots in room No 6.

“VCM No.6 will be shipped to Manila and according to the Comelec, it would replace the machine by Monday (April 11) or Tuesday,” Vice Consul Alex Vallespin told The SUN.

Comelec Commissioner Arthur D. Lim, who was in Hong Kong for the final testing and sealing of the machines on Apr 8, would bring the defective machine back to Manila on Sunday afternoon, Vallespin said.

The Consulate announced on its Facebook page that a total of 3,723 people had cast their votes by the close of voting at 5 pm.

Hundreds of wet but eager voters lined up the stairs and were herded inside Bayanihan, then directed in batches to the upper floors of the center where the voting was being conducted.

By 3pm when the rain had let up, several hundred more voters arrived and the flow steadied until the final hour.  No glitches were reported this time, but some incidents in voters were caught taking or about to take pictures of their ballots with their cellphones in violation of Comelec rules.

The number could have easily exceeded 4,000 had it not been for the rain and the failure of at least 50 people to vote because their names were not on the voters list.

Consulate officials explained that the missing names were a result of the Commission on Elections’ delisting on Sept 21 of nearly 14,000 voters in Hong Kong allegedly for not voting in two consecutive national elections, as mandated by Section 13 of the Overseas Voting Act.

Comelec had originally ordered the de-listing on Sept. 21 and gave those who were purged only until the end of September to file a protest or to register all over again during the regular OVR that ended on Oct. 31. They were given a Dec 31 deadline to re-register.

Months before the delisting, the Consulate had turned away about 6,000 active voters who wanted to register in the OVR and they were overtaken by the purge, Vallespin said. Of this number, only around 1,000 had re-registered, he said.

Ten of these voters failed to cast their ballots on April 9 and about 50 more could not vote on Day Two, Vallespin said.

“The delisted voters are now blaming us for an act that wasn’t ours but the Comelec’s,” said Vallespin.

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