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Hong Kong Pinoys start month-long overseas voting

09 April 2016

Prayers for peaceful and orderly voting,
Filipinos in Hong started voting today for the next president of the Philippines, vice president, 12 senators and one party list representative in Congress.

The voting period will last until May 9, which is also the date when voters in the Philippines will decide who to install as their leaders for the next three or six years, depending on the position.

An initial crowd of about 40 people queued under tents in the basketball court of the Bayanihan Center in Kennedy Town, armed with identification documents to present to the Voter Search section -- their first stop -- where officers found their names and voting precincts.

The actual voting started about 8:15am, after some prayers, the blessing of each precinct, and the singing of the national anthem.

Catalla and Lim.
On hand to welcome the early-birds were officials of the Commission on Elections and the Consulate, led by Comelec Commissioner Arthur Lim and Consul General Bernardita Catalla. Both later lined up at the Voter Search section when the crowd thinned.

Catalla also asked Consulate staff manning the computers and the members of the Special Board of Election Inspectors to vote when they had the chance, while the crowd was still thin. The first expected big day is Sunday, April 10.

Issued with pieces of paper that showed what floor and precinct they should go, the voters went up to their assigned rooms to vote.

But the process did not go without a hitch.

Comelec's Lim, for example, was allowed to vote in the wrong precinct. The vote counting machine rejected his ballot. Since his ballot was already filled up, it was declared spoiled and he was allowed to vote in the correct precinct.

Asked later if this could result in a shortage of ballots, he said this will happen only when there in a 100 per cent turnout.

Deputy Consul General Kit de Jesus also said his name could not be found in the lists at the precunct to which he was sent. However, he went to the next precinct and found his name there, and he voted without a hitch.

Catalla said these minor problems could be expected, especially since this was the first day.

Voters can claim their IDs, too.
As a bonus, voters could also claim their voter's ID in a room beside the Voter Search section. A group of OFW volunteers, led by the Consulate's welfare attache Elizabeth Dy, was on hand to give out the IDs.

Several thousands of IDs of voters who have registered since the first overseas voting in 2004 have remained unclaimed.

(This story will be updated during the day. Stay tuned)

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