KUWAIT CITY, April 2: The Philippine Embassy together with the Commission on Elections (Comelec) conducted on Friday the final testing and sealing (FTS) of the vote counting machines (VCMs) that will be used in the overseas absentee voting (OAV) that will start on April 9. The FTS is the last procedure needed to ensure the completeness, security and accuracy of the VCMs.
The procedure is vital to ensure the integrity, security and accuracy of the VCMs before they are used on election day. During, the FTS, five VCMs were tested at the embassy premises to check if the VCMs accept the ballots and if the count of the units will match that of the manual count that will be done following actual voting using 10 FTS-specific ballots, which will be fed to the machines. An actual voting was held using 10 FTS-specific ballots, which were fed to the VCMs during the FTS.
The VCMs generated eight copies of the FTS results using thermal paper. Aside from the counting machines, accomplished FTS ballots were also manually counted and verified by the Special Board of Election Inspectors (SBEIs) Some Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs) in Kuwait were present during the FTS and had a chance to vote and test the accuracy of the VCM.
Philippine Consul General Raul Dado who was at the helm of the FTS reminded all overseas voters to follow important election guidelines. “Please be advised not to over vote or shade the names of more than 12 senators because the VCM will not read it and your votes will be null and void. It’s okay to vote for less than 12 but not more than 12. Please don’t waste your ballot,“ he explained. After FTS, the VCMs and the boxes containing the election paraphernalia were sealed and would not be opened until April 9. The overseas absentee voting is scheduled a month ahead of the election day in the Philippines that will run from April 9 to May 9. Based on the Comelec data, there are a total of 1,376,067 overseas voters registered for this year’s elections — the highest number of Filipino overseas voters, ever. Kuwait has over 49,000 registered overseas voters. There are 85 Philippine posts overseas, with 30 set to use the automated election system while 26 will use the personal manual voting system and another 26 will adopt the postal manual voting system.
Aside from Kuwait, other posts that will use the automated election system are Abu Dhabi (UAE); Beirut, Lebanon; Doha, Qatar; Dubai, UAE; Jeddah, Saudi Arabia; Manama, Bahrain; Al Khobar Saudi Arabia; Riyadh, Saudi Arabia and Tel Aviv, Israel. Other posts are in the Asia Pacific such as Hong Kong; Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia; Osaka, Japan; Seoul, South Korea; Singapore, Tokyo, Japan; in North and Latin America such as Agana, Guam; Chicago, USA; Honolulu, USA; Los Angeles, USA; New York, USA; Ottawa, Canada; San Francisco, USA; Toronto, Canada; Vancouver, Canada; Washington DC, USA; and in Europe namely London, United Kingdom; Madrid, Spain; Milan, Italy and Rome, Italy. Filipinos in Kuwait can lead the overseas vote if it gets 500 votes on the first day of the overseas voting period, 9 April, according to Comelec in Manila. Voting overseas will begin at 8 am on April 9 and will end at 12 noon on May 9, Kuwait time, at the Philippine Embassy in Faiha. “At almost 50,000 registered voters, Kuwait is at number five in the Mideast on registered Filipino voters, and is at the top 10 in the world. This is due to the highly conscientious electorate here, and the vibrant community with their proactive leaders. The embassy will issue voting guidelines this week and will have a legal team to assist voters and answer queries. Following election laws, the Philippine embassy does not endorse any particular candidate,” stated Dado as he urged all OFWs to go to the embassy and exercise their right of suffrage.
By Michelle Fe Santiago Arab Times Staff