Voters Education on Automated Absentee Voting: Mission Impossible, Says Migrante

March 2, 2010

The militant Filipino migrants’ alliance, Migrante International, today dismissed as ‘mission impossible’ the Commission on Elections’ (COMELEC) reported plan to educate the thousands of Filipino voters in Hong Kong and Singapore on the automated election system for only a month.

Registered Filipino overseas absentee voters in the two countries will be trooping to the polls starting April 10, 2010. But the COMELEC’s Committee on Overseas Absentee Voting was quoted in television news reports recently that they will only hold voter education and Special Board of Election Inspectors (SBEI) trainings for only a month.

“Educating 127, 206 thousand Filipino voters in two countries in one month is mission impossible,” stated Garry Martinez, chairperson of Migrante International, explaining that there are 95,355 Filipino voters in Hong Kong and 31,851 in Singapore.

“That the COMELEC now is scrambling to educate our kababayans in Hong Kong and Singapore at the last minute proves correct our earlier assertion that the slated automation of overseas absentee voting is doomed to fail,” he said.

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He emphasized that voter education is crucial to ensure that their votes will not go to waste once they cast their ballots using the Precinct Count Optical Scan (PCOS) machines.

At the same time, Martinez also complained of the non-conduct of mock elections and field tests in HK and Singapore. He said, this is another crucial part of preparations needed in order for the COMELEC to determine the potential technical and operational problems in advance and for it to make the necessary corrections in time for the balloting. He recalled the recently concluded mock elections in Quezon City and Taguig, which according to him “was as disaster.”

Martinez also slammed the COMELEC’s deployment of PCOS machines in the two countries. He said the machines the poll body will be sending (30 machines for HK and Singapore, 4 are spares) will not be enough considering that the machines will be prone to breakdowns as it will be open for 11 hours for a whole month.

“Migrante International thus demands for heads to roll should the much ballyhooed automated overseas absentee voting fails and thousands of our compatriots in Hong Kong and Singapore are disenfranchised. The COMELEC must be made accountable for this unforgivable transgression among our so-called bagong bayanis,” Martinez said.

Garry Martinez, Chairperson, Migrante International

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