Monday, 12 April 2010

Overseas Filipino voters fill ballots in a jiffy

By Leila B. Salaverria
Philippine Daily Inquirer

MANILA, Philippines—The lengthy ballot and the hundreds of names on it did not seem to slow down Filipino voters in Hong Kong, since they managed to fill it out in less than two minutes.

The Hong Kong voters finished shading the names of their chosen bets in an average time of one and a half minutes during the first overseas absentee voting day, according to Commission on Elections spokesperson James Jimenez.

This was much faster than the five-minute average it took participants of the mock polls in Manila, Jimenez noted.

“The average fill-up rate is about a minute and a half, which is much faster than the five minutes that we've been clocking here in Manila with our various field tests. It has been very easy for overseas voters,” Jimenez told reporters.

Asked why he thought the overseas Filipinos were quicker in voting, he attributed this to their being skilled and their familiarity with new technology and the process of filling out forms.

“You have to understand these are OFWs. Some of them are pretty skilled. They have a high appreciation for new technology. Our OFWs are more exposed to these new things, so it's not surprising that the fill-up rate is faster. They are used to forms, used to filling out standardized forms,” he said.

Meanwhile, Jimenez also said the Comelec was also concerned about the overseas absentee voting being used for trending.

He raised the issue after the first Hong Kong voter, when interviewed by the media, disclosed that she had voted for the Nacionalista Party's Manuel Villar.

He said the Comelec would not prevent anyone from asking people who they voted for, and would not stop people from disclosing that either.

But the poll body would look for ways to prevent the appearance of trending based on the month-long overseas absentee voting.

“It's very important for us that the elections here in the Philippines will not be perceived as having been influenced by any outside factor such as trending or a bandwagon that will be generated by the OAV. We’ll look into this and we’ll see what we can do to minimize the possibility of trending and band wagon effect coming from the OAV,” he said.

He also said the disclosure of the first Hong Kong voter's vote does not mean there was trending. He acknowledged that the matter was “newsworthy.”

“As far as the first voter is concerned, that’s done. It’s out there already. We’ll see what we can do over the next few days just to prevent the appearance of trending,” he said.

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