Guidelines for first-time overseas voters

Published by reposted only Date posted on April 18, 2010

MANILA, Philippines—Elections Commissioner Armando Velasco urges Filipinos abroad to vote for the May 10 polls, either by mail, in person or using the pilot automated polls in Hong Kong and Singapore.

Velasco, who chairs the Committee on Overseas Absentee Voting (COAV), said a total of 589,830 Filipinos abroad registered as overseas absentee voters this year.

“The process for voting is simple, whether by mail, in person or using the automated system piloted in Hong Kong and Singapore,” he said.

Personal voting

Here are the steps for personal OAV voting in Philippine consulates or designated voting center abroad where the voter must go to vote:

* The voter should verify with the Special Board of Election Inspector (SBEI) if his name is on the list of registered voters; if he is, he will be given a ballot and be directed to the voting area. Also bring a passport and other identification documents to facilitate identity verification.

* Using a ballot secrecy folder, an OAV will cast his vote for one president, one vice president, 12 senators, and one party-list group.

* After voting, fold the accomplished ballot the same way it was given and return it to the SBEI.

* Affix right thumb mark on space provided on the ballot coupon and on space at the OAV list.

* The SBEI will detach the ballot coupon (found at the bottom part of the ballot) and it will be deposited to the compartment for spoiled ballots. The SBEI will hand the ballot to the voter who will be instructed to drop it in the compartment for valid ballots.

After this, the voter can leave the voting premises.

Voting by mail

If you decided to vote by mail, follow these steps:

* By April 10, the voter in countries that will have postal voting should receive a mailing packet, either directly from Comelec Manila or through the Philippine embassy in the area. The mailing packet contains these: official ballot, list of national candidates, instruction to voters, official ballot envelope, and two pieces of paper seals.

* If you have not yet received the mailing packet, follow it up with the Philippine embassy or call the COAV at +632 522-2251, the OAV Secretariat at +632 834-4361, 832-9725, and 833-0686

* Personally accomplish the ballot by writing the names of candidates chosen for president, vice president, senators, and party-list group on the spaces provided.

* Affix right thumb mark on the space provided at the lower portion of the ballot; tear off the portion (coupon), and put it inside the ballot envelope.

* Fold the accomplished ballot to prevent the contents from being seen. Seal it with the paper seal and put inside the ballot envelope.

* Seal the ballot with the other piece of paper seal. On left hand corner of the envelope, the voter must write his printed name and affix signature above it before sending the mailing packet to the Philippine embassy or consulate in the locality by mail or hand delivery.

It should be received by the SBEI on or before 6 p.m. (Manila time) on May 10 for canvassing.

Automated voting

For OAVs in Hong Kong and Singapore voting in the pilot automated election system, go to the Philippine embassy to vote:

* Verify with the SBEI if your name is on the list of the registered voters; if it is on the list, OAV will be given a ballot, secrecy folder, and a marker pen before proceeding to voting booth.

* Using the ballot secrecy folder, shade the ovals opposite the names of candidates chosen for president, vice president, senators, and party-list group.

* Do not make any other marks or creases on the ballot so it will not be rejected by the poll machine. Once shading is completed, feed the ballot into the poll machine which will scan and count the shade marks as votes.

* If the ballot is accepted and scanned by the poll machine, it is dropped inside the ballot box with translucent windows on each side. If the ballot has spurious marks or creases, it will be ejected through the other end of the machine.

* Voters must return the secrecy folder and marker pen to the SBEI, affix his thumb mark on the computerized voters’ list and have his right index finger marked by an indelible ink. After this, the voter shall leave the polling center.

For assistance, call the Philippine consulate in Hong Kong at +852 282-38501 or in Singapore at +65 6737-39-77. –Anna Valmero, INQUIRER.net

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