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HK posts record turnout in PHL mid-term election

13 May 2019

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The verification process was faster than usual because of help from POLO and other attached agencies


By The SUN

More than 4,700 voters cast their ballots today, May 12, the penultimate day of overseas voting in the Philippines’ midterm elections, taking the total number of ballots cast by Hong Kong-based Filipinos to 34,183.

The biggest daily tally so far in the month-long voting drove the total turnout to almost 40% of 87,441 registered overseas voters in the city, said Consul General Antonio Morales in a media briefing.
“I was told that we have already exceeded the biggest turnout in the last mid-term election,” Congen Morales said.

That election in 2013 saw 28,252 voters casting their ballots, for a 32% turnout.

But Morales, taking note that more than 87,000 Filipinos are registered to vote in Hong Kong, said there is still a need to entice more of them to go out and vote.

“We hope to reach a 45% (turnout) if that is possible,” he said.

The day’s tally eclipsed the previous record high set the other Sunday, May 5, when a total of 4,500 people turned out to vote.

But the day also saw the highest number of overvotes, at 34. This meant that the voters chose more than 12 senatorial bets or one party-list, the maximum number they could vote for.
Despite the big turnout, Morales said each voter spent no longer than 20 minutes inside the polling center.

“We had a faster verification process because of the support of all our attached agencies, including POLO (Philippine Overseas Labor Office),” he said.
For the first time, POLO staff led by Labor Attache Jalilo dela Torre helped man the computers on the second floor where voters are directed to go to check if their names are on the registry, and get their assigned precinct and room number.

He also said there was a steady stream of voters, “hindi bugso”, helping ensure a more manageable crowd. The vote counting machines also did not act up as in the early days of the election.
“Sa awa ng Diyos walang machine na nag fail despite the high number of voters,” he said.

Fine weather appeared to have enticed many voters to troop to Bayanihan Center where the polling is taking place, as soon as the gate opened at 9am.

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Sunny weather helped entice more people to vote

The atmosphere was festive on both sides of Victoria Road in Kennedy Town leading to the polling center, as campaigners for various candidates and parties urged voters for support. But unlike the previous Sunday where police had to be called in to break up a fight among supporters, the day went by without a hitch.

Image may contain: 8 people, including Rodelia Pedro Villar, people smiling, people standing and outdoor
No clashes between rival camps were reported unlike the previous Sunday 
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Opposing supporters stayed well away from each other

Morales said three seniors, a person with disability and a pregnant woman were allowed to vote on the ground floor of the Bayanihan so they did not have to climb up the stairs to their precincts.

One voter who was almost blind had to be assisted by his wife in filling his ballot, which said the consul general, is allowed under the country’s election laws.
Three voters claimed names of candidates other than those they voted for appeared on their ballot receipts, but only one filed a protest, Morales said. The protest was dutifully sent by the secretariat to the Commission on Elections.

The other incidents included the following:

  • One voter undervoted while another abstained, meaning the voter made no mark on the ballot
  • Three overseas voters registered in other countries were allowed to vote in Hong Kong
  • Two voters who were not on the certified list of voters were allowed to vote after getting approval from the Comelec
  • Two voters who took photos of their ballots in violation of Comelec rules were asked to delete the pictures in their cellphones
  • One seafarer cast his ballot in precinct no 9
  • Two ballots were spoiled as the voter may have unintentionally marked them in areas outside the tick boxes.
Today’s voting was observed briefly by Foreign Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr, who arrived before noon to check on the proceedings at Bayanihan. He was later seen attending the 6pm mass at St Joseph’s church in Central.

Consulate officers said Locsin also visited the voting center on Saturday. But he is expected to fly back to Manila to cast his ballot during the nationwide vote tomorrow.

Morales said voting in Hong Kong will end at 6pm tomorrow, simultaneous with the closing of polls in the Philippines. The tallying and canvassing of votes will follow immediately in the Bayanihan auditorium.

The Special Board of Canvassers to be chaired by Morales will tally election returns from Hong Kong, Macau, Beijing, Guangzhou, Chongxing, Xiamen, Shanghai and Mongolia.

He said he hoped the canvassing of votes from Hong Kong will be finished by midnight tomorrow, and from Macau in the early morning Tuesday. The election returns from the other Chinese cities will be canvassed as they arrive at Bayanihan.
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