By Leslie Ann Aquino
The conduct of the first few days of the overseas voting went relatively smooth, according to the Commission on Elections (Comelec).
Comelec Spokesman James Jimenez said it was relatively smooth in the sense that no major problems were encountered. The overseas absentee voting started last April 13.
“No major problems were encountered where the voting proceeded. In areas where there were problems, these have been addressed and dealt with rather speedily jn most cases,” he said in an interview.
Jimenez cited an incident in Al Khobar, Saudi Arabia wherein voters experienced difficulty in the identification process.
He explained that the hard copy of the Election Day Computerized Voters Lists to be used in Al-Khobar was delayed in Customs.
“To ensure availability of the list for voting purposes, the COMELEC sent downloadable files to the Post, which could then be used for verification of voter identities. In addition, the Post personnel are in constant and direct communication with the Office for Overseas Voting which facilitates identification of individual voters,” said Jimenez.
It was “unfortunate”, he said, that some voters experienced difficulty in the identification process.
“The COMELEC deeply regrets the inconvenience and assures the public that while there are currently measures in place to address this concern, we shall continue to work towards improving the voting experience for the rest of the period for Overseas Voting,” said Jimenez in a statement.
As to the three Philippine posts where overseas voting has been suspended, Jimenez said they were still looking at possibilities on how overseas voters in Damascus in Syria, Tripoli in Libya, and Baghdad in Iraq could still vote.
“Remember due to the safety situation there the Comelec deemed it necessary to suspend the voting in these areas. Will have to get clarity on policy on letting them vote in adjacent areas,” said Jimenez.
Data from the Comelec showed that around 4,000 overseas voters are presently registered to vote in the said posts.
Records show that there are a total of 1,822,173 overseas voters.
The overseas voting period started April 13 and will end on May 13.