MORE than one million registered overseas Filipino voters (OFVs) will start casting their votes today, Saturday, as the law-mandated month-long overseas absentee voting (OAV) opens in 85 Philippine posts in various countries around the world.
Figures from the Commission on Elections (Comelec) showed a total of 1,376,067 OFVs registered worldwide for the 2016 polls.
Of the number, 1,326,728 are land-based workers, while the rest or 49,339 are seafarers.
Comelec Chairman Andres Bautista on Friday explained that unlike the rest of the 54.4 million locally-based registered voters, the OFVs are only allowed to vote for candidates vying for national positions, which include the President, Vice President, 12 senators and a party-list group.
Bautista said the OAV will simultaneously close along with local voting at 5 p.m. on May 9.
“Philippine time may vary with other countries. In other part of the world, it’s either May 9, 8 or 10, depending which [country]but everybody has to adjust to Philippine time because that’s what the law provides,” he added.
The poll chief said results would be transmitted electronically and via satellite in some of the areas.
According to Bautista, the Comelec will also open a 24-hour Skype facility to assist members of the special board of election inspectors and support personnel during and after the conduct of the OAV.
Commissioner Arthur Lim, chairman, Committee on Overseas Absentee Voting, said 30 of the 85 embassies and consulates that were designated as polling centers would use the automated election system, 26 would use personal manual voting and another 26 would adopt the postal mode voting.
The Comelec opted to suspend voting in 3 overseas posts–Baghdad, Iraq; Damascus, Syria; and Tripoli, Libya–for security reasons brought about by prevailing conflicts in these countries.
According to Lim, the affected 3,915 registered voters in the three posts may still cast their votes in conflict-free polling centers accessible to them.
He said their target is to exceed the 16.11 percent overseas voter turnout during the 2013 elections to at least 80 percent of the 1.326 million registered OFVs for 2016.
There were only 737,759 overseas registered voters in 2013.
The 30 posts that will adopt the automated voting system are Agana (Guam), Chicago, Honolulu (Hawaii), Los Angeles, New York, San Francisco and Washington in the United States; Ottawa, Toronto and Vancouver in Canada; London, Madrid, Milan and Rome in Europe; Hong Kong, Kuala Lumpur, Osaka, Seoul, Singapore and Tokyo in Asia; and Abu Dhabi, Beirut, Doha, Dubai, Jeddah, Kuwait, Manama, Al Khobar, Riyadh and Tel Aviv in the Middle East.