Absentee voting starts; higher turnout expected

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MANILA, Philippines—The Commission on Elections (Comelec) on Friday said it expected the turnout in the overseas absentee voting (OAV) to more than double in this year’s elections as more Filipinos abroad start casting their ballots on Saturday.

Commission on Elections Chairman Sixto Brillantes. INQUIRER FILE PHOTO

Comelec commissioner Elias Yusoph said they expected 60 percent of the 737,759 registered overseas absentee voters to exercise their right of suffrage during the month-long voting from April 13 to May 13.

“The expected turnout is 60 percent. It will be higher,” Yusoph said in an interview.

During the 2010 elections, the Comelec had expected a 50-percent turnout out of the 589,830 registered overseas absentee voters. However, only 153,323 or 25.99 percent actually voted.

“The turnout in 2010 was around 150,000, but we expect it to be higher this year. Now, the whole of America will have postal voting,” said commissioner Lucenito Tagle.

Overseas absentee voters can cast their votes by using the precinct count optical scan (PCOS) machines that have been delivered to seven areas abroad, or either by mail or by personally delivering their ballots to Philippine diplomatic posts.

The PCOS machines will be used in Hong Kong, Riyadh in Saudi Arabia, Abu Dhabi, Singapore, Dubai, Jeddah in Saudi Arabia, and Kuwait.

Comelec chair Sixto Brillantes Jr. , however, said that the start of the OAV in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, would be delayed.

“The release of the ballot boxes from (Saudi) Customs was delayed but the PCOS machines are OK. So, it will begin there either on April 15 or 16,” he added.

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