By Ferdinand Patinio
MANILA — They are deemed as the new heroes of the nation as their remittances contribute greatly to the economy. While chasing their dreams and working to provide for their families in another country, they also take part in selecting the future leaders of their motherland.
This is the essence of the overseas absentee voting (OAV). Article V, Section 2 of the 1987 Constitution mandates the creation of a system for securing the secrecy and sanctity of the ballot, as well as a system for absentee voting by qualified Filipinos abroad.
Overseas Filipinos have two modes of voting in the May 2019 midterm polls, either personal or by mail.
According to the Commission on Elections (Comelec), those who availed of Overseas Voting will either go to the post where they are registered or just wait for their ballots in the mail.
The modes of voting are manual (postal) and (personal) manual and using vote count machine (VCM) under the automated election systems (AES).
The registered voters overseas will be voting for national positions only, 12 senators and one party-list organization. They will also be using a special ballot since they will only be choosing candidates for these positions.
OAV by the numbers
According to the Comelec website, www.comelec.ph, there are a total of 1,822,173, registered voters overseas from four regions.
Middle East and African Region tops the number of absentee voters at 887,744, followed by the Asia Pacific Region at 401,390;; North and Latin American Region, 345,415; and European Region, 187,624.
A total of 41 posts will be using VCM in the forthcoming polls.
These posts are in Agana, Calgary, Chicago, Honolulu, Los Angeles, New York, Ottawa, San Francisco, Toronto, Vancouver, Washington, Brunei, Canberra, Hong Kong, Kuala Lumpur, Macau, Kaohsiung, Taichung, Taipei, Osaka, Seoul, Singapore, Sydney, Tokyo, and Wellington.
Also included are the posts in Athens, London, Madrid, Milan, Rome, Abu Dhabi, Beirut, Doha, Dubai, Jeddah, Kuwait, Manama, Muscat, Al-Khobar, Riyadh, and Tel Aviv.
Postal voting will be utilized in the following posts, namely Brasilia, Buenos Aires, Mexico, Santiago, Bangkok, Beijing, Chongqing, Guangzhou, Hanoi, Islamabad, Port Moresby, Yangon, Ankara, Berlin, Berne, Brussels, Budapest, Geneva, Lisbon, Moscow, Oslo, Paris, Prague, The Hague, Vienna, Warsaw, Abuja, Cairo, and Pretoria.
On the other hand, personal voting will be conducted in Dhaka, Dili, Jakarta, Manado, New Delhi, Phnom Penh, Shanghai, Vientiane, Xiamen, Vatican, Amman, Nairobi, and Tehran.
Voting starts at 8 am, April 13, local time of the host country and will end at 6 p.m. on May 13, Manila time.
For those availing of the personal voting using VCM, the voter has to go to the embassy, consulate and other foreign service establishments authorized by the Comelec for him/her to cast their votes.
Just like in a regular polling center, a voter will be given a ballot together with a secrecy folder and a pen, he/she will then proceed to a booth and cast his/her vote.
The voter will shade the ovals beside the name of the candidates and party-list of choice. He/she will then submit to the Special Board of Elections Inspectors (SBIEs) the ballot, and insert the ballot in the machine.
After the ballot was read by the machine, it will issue a receipt, the voter will then drop it into a designated box.
As for countries adopting manual voting (personal), a voter will go to the Post or other voting areas designated by the Commission, he/she should have the passport or valid ID. He/she will approach the Electoral Board, and give his/her name and address.
Once the identity is a ascertained, the voter will sign and affix his/her thumbmark in the List of Overseas Voters with Voting Records (OVF No. 2-A), the certified list of overseas voters containing their names and biometrics arranged alphabetically, then a ballot will be issued to them.
He/she will accomplish the ballot using a ballot secure folder. After voting, the voter will fold the ballot in the same manner he/she received it and return it to the Poll Clerk and place the ballot inside the ballot box.
The SBIEs deputized by the poll body will oversee the conduct of the voting and counting of votes.
As for postal voting, the voter will receive through mail or personal delivery an envelop containing the Official Ballot, Certified List of Candidates, Instructions to Voters, Official Ballot envelop and Paper Seals.
After accomplishing the ballot, the voter has to place the ballot inside the “Ballot Envelope” and seal the same. They should make sure that the envelope is neither be crumpled nor damaged when it reached the embassy, consulate or foreign establishment concerned.
He/she should write his/her full name and affix signature in the proper space provided in the “Ballot Envelope” and seal it with a paper seal.
They may either mail or personally deliver it to the Post. Mailing should be done at the soonest possible time to ensure that the ballot is received by the Post concerned on or before May 13, 2019 at 6 p.m. Manila time.
Also, voting may be held for limited days in the field voting centers or mobile voting centers authorized by the Commission.
For seafarers, they may vote at any Post adopting personal voting or, in case of postal voting, in any Post with international seaports as identified and recommended by the Department of Foreign Affairs-Overseas Voting Secretariat (DFA-OVS).
The Comelec said that if there are still voters who have yet to cast votes within 30 meters radius of the polling place at 6 p.m. Manila time on May 13, the voting shall continue to allow the voters to cast their votes without interruption.
The Poll Clerk shall without delay, list the names of said voters. The voters listed shall be called to vote by the Poll Clerk by announcing each name three times in the order, in which they are listed.
Any voter who is not present when called shall not be permitted to vote at any later time.
Counting and canvassing
The counting and canvassing of votes will begin immediately after the posts have closed. It will be conducted on site in the country within the premises of the Posts, or in such other places as may be designated by the Commission.
The SBEIs composed of a Chairperson, the Poll Clerk and the Third Member will conduct the counting of the votes, which will be held simultaneous with the counting of votes in the Philippines on Election Day.
The Chairperson will read the names of candidates and the office which they are voted for while the Poll Clerk and Third Member, accomplished the Election Returns and Tally Board, respectively.
After all the ballots have been counted, the Chairperson will publicly announce the total number of votes received by each candidate for Senator and party, sectoral organization or coalition participating in the party-list system of representation.
After the counting, the SBEI shall transmit the results to the Special Board of Canvassers (SBOC) that will consolidate and canvass the votes. (PNA)