Overseas voting underway after encountering some delays

“After nine hours, @PHinNewYork is done with the final testing and sealing of vote counting machines for the 2022 national elections,” Philippine Consul General Elmer Cato said on Twitter on April 13.

OVERSEAS Filipinos can now cast their votes in the 2022 national elections. The month-long voting period began on April 10 and will end on May 9.

Registered Filipino voters abroad will be voting personally or via mail at their respective Philippine embassies and consulates. They will vote for their national candidates – president, vice president, senators, and party-list groups.

Over 1.6 million Filipinos are registered to vote overseas, according to the Commission on Elections (Comelec). The number has dropped since overseas absentee voting was first held in 2004 as hundreds of thousands of Filipinos returned to the Philippines due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

There are 39,048 registered Filipino voters under the jurisdiction of the Philippine Consulate General in New York. The United States has a total of 198,935 registered voters, making it the third country with the most registered voters after the United Arab Emirates (290,182) and Saudi Arabia (282,605). Hong Kong and Canada round up the top five countries.

65.7 million Filipinos will go to their local polling precincts in the Philippines on May 9.

After encountering some delays due to what the Commission on Elections said were logistical difficulties, vote-counting machines, ballots, and other election paraphernalia for next month’s national elections have finally arrived at the Philippine Consulate General.

In an earlier advisory posted on Facebook, the consulate informed said that a new date for the final testing and sealing of VCMs will be announced once it receives the election materials.

Several Filipino voters gathered in front of the Philippine Consulate General on Monday, April 11, the first day of Overseas Absentee Voting to demand transparency from the Philippine government on the status of overseas voting in the upcoming Philippine general elections on May 9.

Consul General Elmer G. Cato said that they have started the process of getting the ballots to overseas voters in the northeast as early as the afternoon of April 11.

A rally flyer posed the question “Nasaan ang Balota?” and said that overseas voters demand assurances that their right to vote is protected and democracy is safeguarded.

“Lack of transparency, short notice, and delayed information dissemination are brewing anxiety and frustration as the Philippine election unfurls,” rally organizers added.

Consul General Cato also issued a statement about the alleged insufficient postage for return envelopes containing ballots of overseas voters in the United States.

The Philippine Consulate General in New York has been made aware of a social media post that is circulating alleging that a foreign service post in the United States had sent out election packets to registered voters containing return envelopes with insufficient postage.

According to the statement, the said social media post claimed that as a result of the insufficient postage, envelopes containing ballots would not be delivered.

“The same post irresponsibly claimed undelivered ballots would be substituted. Unfortunately, said post did not provide any proof for us to look into said claim,” the statement read. “We would like to assure our kababayan that election packets and the return envelopes containing ballots that were sent to them have sufficient postage.”

Consulate officials went twice to the Post Office—on Monday afternoon, April 11 before mailing the initial batch of ballots and again on Tuesday morning, April 12—to have the election packets and return envelopes weighed to ensure these have the correct stamps.

“We are committed to ensuring that all qualified members of the Filipino Community get to exercise their right to vote,” the statement read further. “While we welcome the vigilance of kababayan in ensuring that the elections would be credible, we also would like to request them to exercise prudence when posting in social media so as not to put doubts on the credibility of the overseas elections process.”

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