Very low turnout for overseas voting

PHILIPPINE NEWS SERVICE — The official turnout from overseas absentee voting as expected was very low, with 80,000 or about 15 percent of registered voters casting their votes, according to the Department of Foreign Affairs.

The official count did not include votes from Europe and the Americas, Foreign Affairs Undersecretary Rafael Seguis said yesterday.

Seguis said that as of 5 a.m., a total of 78,360 votes have been received from the various polling precincts throughout the world.

Foreign affairs department sources attributed the low turnout to two factors: the voters did not receive the document; and, many of them are discouraged from re-acquiring Filipino citizenship to be able to vote because the law compels them to go back home in three years.

Of the overseas voters, 51,246 cast their ballots personally, 23,754 through voting by mail, and 3,360 through modified voting by mail.

Ambassador Generoso Calonge, vice chairman of the overseas absentee voting secretariat, said the certificates of canvass are expected to arrive on Tuesday night and today (Wednesday) in time for the transformation of the Commission on Elections en banc into the National Board of Canvassers.

The overseas absentee voting report shows that the top five posts in terms of participation through personal voting are: Hong Kong, 19,185; Riyadh , 7,519; Jeddah, 5,041; Al Khobar, 3,902; and Kuwait , 2,395.

The turnout through voting by mail was highest in the following posts: Singapore , 5,527; Brunei , 2,702; Taiwan , 1,803; San Francisco , 1,190; and Tokyo , 1,139.

In the first overseas absentee voting exercise in 2004, a total of 233,092 or 65 percent of the 359,297 registered voters joined the poll exercise. For the 2007 polls, a total of 504,110 overseas Filipinos registered for the overseas absentee voting.

Calonge said the overseas absentee voting count should finish within 72 hours as prescribed under the rules and regulations.