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Nearly 1,000 Filipinos cast ballots on first day of overseas voting in HK

14 April 2019


By The SUN

About 1,000 Filipinos cast their ballots on Day One of the overseas voting in Hong Kong for the mid-term elections in the Philippines, according to Consul General Antonio Morales.

Prayers kicked off OV in HK

He described the first day of voting at Bayanihan Centre in Kennedy Town “uneventful” as only a few minor issues were reported.
But voter turnout fell far short from expected, given the nearly 90,000 registered voters in Hong Kong.

In a short speech to open the election shortly after 8am, Congen Morales said that if 3,000 voted each day, then a full turnout could be realized.
 
Congen Morales

He urged voters to cast their ballots early in the month-long exercise, which will run until election day across the Philippines on May 13.
Later, at a media briefing held at the end of the day’s voting, Morales said: “We are happy to report that our first day of voting has been an uneventful first day.”

But he said about five minor issues were reported, such as one voter complaining that her ballot already had a party-list shaded when it was given to her.
“We asked her to make a report. Pero sa totoo, before they vote, we ask them to check the ballot. Bago kayo bumoto, tingnan nyo kung may naka-shade. Kung naka-shade, siyempre huwag nyong tanggapin,” Morales said.

One voter was reported to have mistakenly left a mark on the bar code, invalidating her ballot, while another complained about receiving a notification that she had over-voted, when she shaded the names of only 12 senatorial candidates.


Morales also noted other incidents he described as minor.

These included a vote-counting machine jamming in SBEI 9 shortly after voting began, but the glitch was fixed after it was traced to a misalignment of the machine, he said.
 
VCM jamming was a problem

“It’s a good first day, less than 1,000, less than 1 % of 87,441 (registered voters),” the consul general said.

Among the questions fielded by Morales was from Eman Villanueva, Bayan Hong Kong and Macau chairman, who asked why watchers are now required to have photos on their IDs, saying this entails costs for the mostly OFW volunteers.

Another watcher complained about Comelec’s new policy of disallowing SBEIs to give them the last number of voters recorded on the VCMs, which raises questions on transparency. She said watchers were traditionally given the number at the end of the day so they could add it to number of next day’s voters.

Morales promised to relay those concerns to the Comelec.

Meanwhile, he asked the media to help convince voters to cast their votes early to avoid last-minute overcrowding and confusion at Bayanihan.

A short mass, followed by welcome remarks by Congen Morales, preceded the start of the election. Fr. Jay Flandez, chaplain to Filipinos, then went from room to room for the traditional blessing with holy water.
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