Thursday, 11 February 2010

Automated overseas voting approved


THE COMMISSION on Elections (Comelec) has approved the automation of polls in Hong Kong and Singapore, home to a fifth of the 589,000 overseas absentee voters (OAV), a poll official yesterday said.

Comelec would push through with the automated overseas absentee voting in Hong Kong and Singapore following the recommendation of the poll technology provider and the technical evaluation committee, Commissioner Armando C. Velasco said in an interview with reporters after the en banc session yesterday afternoon.

"On the 20th, we will be going to Hong Kong not only for a consultative dialogue but also to give them an orientation on automated elections," he said.

He added Smartmatic/Total Information Management Corp., the automated election system technology provider, will be conducting within the month a site survey at the Philippine embassy in Hong Kong embassy and consulate in Singapore.

A total of 31,851 overseas absentee voters are registered in Singapore and 95,365 in Hong Kong, figures from the Comelec OAV office show.

Mr. Velasco said seven precinct count optical scan machines would be sent to Hong Kong and 26 to Singapore, with six voting machines on stand-by for the two areas.

He said 138,113 overseas absentee voters would be voting via mail while 324,511 overseas absentee voters would be casting their votes personally.

"The commission allotted P188 million for OAV," he said, adding the Comelec and the Foreign Affairs department would be sharing the separate P40 million estimated cost of automated polls in Hong Kong and Singapore.

The 30-day OAV, wherein voters are only allowed to vote for national posts, would start on April 10.

The first overseas absentee voting was held in the 2004 presidential elections pursuant to Republic Act 9189 or the Overseas Absentee Voting Act of 2003.

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