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No VCM issues despite rains, but some voters ‘misbehave’

21 April 2019

by Vir B. Lumicao
A lone voter inside a Bayanihan precinct

Heavy rain dampened Day 7 of the month-long overseas voting for Filipinos in Hong Kong, with just over 300 voters casting their ballots.

The Observatory issued a thunderstorm and amber rain warning for most of the territory, and the sidewalks of Bayanihan Centre turned into raging streams, keeping many voters away.

But despite the damp weather, none of the previously problematic vote-counting machines malfunctioned.

“There were no problems with the machines today, unlike in the past days. At least we are learning how to use the machines although malalaman po natin (talaga) kung marami nang botante,” Consul General Morales said in a media briefing at the end of the day.

He said the Consulate, which was deputized by the Commission on Elections to conduct the overseas voting in Hong Kong, is in close touch with the election body just in case problems recur when more voters come.

Morales said three additional VCMs had been put on standby, to be used to replace any malfunctioning machine.

About 320 voters turned up, bringing the total ballots cast since the overseas voting began exactly a week ago to close to 5,100, Morales said. That represents just 5.78% of the 87,441 registered voters in Hong Kong. But Morales said he still expects a 50% turnout.

Overseas voters will pick 12 Senators and one party-list representative in Congress the Senate in the ongoing mid-term elections.

Today two ballots were rejected by the VCM because there were ink marks on their bar codes, or the so-called ballot timing mark, Morales said.

There were also two voters who were caught taking photos of their ballots and were asked by the chairperson of the Special Board of Inspectors in their respective precincts to delete the pictures.

“Nakasaad po (sa batas) na bawal ito at ang SBEI chair ay napilitang pagsabihan sila na i-delete ang kanilang mga photo,” Morales said.

One person with disability made her way to the voting center despite the driving rain, and the chairman in her precinct had to go down to bring her the ballot.

“Alam nyo po na it’s difficult to climb the stairs of the voting center, at may bumaba na chair ng isang SBEI kasama ang isang watcher” so that the avid voter could cast his vote at the election secretariat on the third floor of Bayanihan, Morales said.

The election secretariat also received a protest against a person who was allegedly campaigning at the entrance of the voting center, the consul general said.

Morales said the protest was immediately sent to the Comelec along with the names of the protester and the person who was the target of protest.

“Huwag (din) pong mangangampanya, huwag sasabihin ang ibinoto natin dahil kapag may nagprotesta in written form, pinadadala namin ang pangalan ng nagprotesta at ng iprinotesta sa Comelec at sila ang gumagawa ng tamang aksiyon. So please be reminded of the rules.”

He again warned that distribution of campaign flyers outside the voting center is prohibited. It is allowed only at least 30 meters away from the voting center.

Asked why the Consulate has not been posting the daily running total on its Facebook page as in the 2016 presidential election, Morales said: “I have said we were deputized by the Comelec, we will ask for permission; kung papayag sila, ilalagay natin.”  

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