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Pinoy Abroad

OFWs in France push OAV system improvements for May 2019 polls

Filipino voters in France have laid down some suggestions to encourage Pinoy expatriates to vote and to facilitate the Overseas Absentee Voting (OAV) process for the coming midterm polls in May.

In online correspondences with GMA News Online, some OFWs in  Marsaeille and elsewhere suggested the following, including having: 

  • satellite voting centers,
  • an update on the arrival of their votes,
  • an option to vote via mail, an option to vote by showing the voter’s ID only,
  • a representation of OFWs in Congress, and
  • automated voting to facilitate the overseas absentee voting (OAV) process.

“[A report] about the OAV in New Zealand having satellite centers would be a good thing so that all Filipinos willing to vote would gather together in a place just like in our country. Here in Marseille, I think we can work it out as long as the authority would allow us to do so,” said Eugene Caole, 45, building/house maintenance in Marseille in an email interview on February 13.

Caole voted in the 2016 Philippine presidential election.

“I also would like to know the number of registered voters from our embassy and have the assurance that all our votes will be accounted for by receiving a letter of confirmation that our votes arrived without any problems,” he added.

On the other hand, an option to vote through mail or just by showing a voter’s ID is what Dennis Mana-ay wanted.

“Some did not receive their ballot, and after [being filled out] errors appeared on their entry,” said the 54-year-old facilities manager at the American Cathedral in Paris in an online interview.

Like Caole, Mana-ay was able to vote during the 2016 Philippine presidential election.

“[So] I wish an option for us to vote [by] mail or by showing our voter’s ID if we do not receive the ballot,” he  reiterated.

Mana-ay also wishes OFWs to have at least a representation in Congress.

“There should have at least a slot reserved for us 'genuine OFWs.' There should be an OFW member in Congress from Europe, Middle East, America, and Asia,” he poitned out.

“I raised this issue several times to different government officials from the previous administrations to the current every time I have a chance to meet them here in France but nothing happened.”

Annie Estricomen, 53, administrator of the Calabarzon French School for Basic & Advance Language in Paris, observed that an early voting and an in-person absentee voting are necessary for OFWs in France.

“Not all OFWs in France participated in the last presidential election because they had not received their mailed ballots or they had changed residences,” she said.

It could also be easy for other OFWs to vote through automated machine.

“The one I voted for won then,” Azy Wilson Valdez, 35, chief bartender at Le Bouillon Belge, shared in another online interview, referring to the 2016 Philippine presidential election.

“We didn’t have any problems at all here in France because the consular office handled [OAV] well and smooth. Still, [I] wish to have an automated machine for voting. It will be easy for everyone.”

The Office for Overseas Voting of the Commission on Elections (COMELEC) has implemented postal voting for Filipinos in France who have been registered and duly certified by the poll body as overseas voters.

“This was also the case in the last 2016 elections. The COMELEC made this decision based on the number of registered voters, accessibility of the Embassies and Consulates, and the efficiency of the host country’s postal system. This means that registered Filipino voters in France will vote via mail as the ballots will be sent to the addresses they registered,” the Philippine Embassy in France said in a statement.

It also explained why it does not have automated voting there.

“The COMELEC has also decided that the counting and canvassing of votes for France will follow the manual system.  This is because the automation of the counting and canvassing of votes requires a minimum of 10,000 registered voters.  Per the certified list of overseas voters for France, there are less than 5,000 registered voters,” it added upon mentioning the link where Filipino voters in France are listed “as provided by COMELEC.”

The Philippine Embassy in France conducted the overseas voter registration from December 1, 2016 to September 30, 2018.

“The Embassy is still waiting for instructions from the COMELEC as to when the ballots will arrive, as well as further guidelines for the conduct of OAV for the May 2019 elections.” —LBG, GMA News

Tags: ofws, france, oav