Overseas absentee voting in Oslo off to a slow start

By Macel Ingles, ABS-CBN Europe News Bureau

Posted at Apr 17 2010 07:12 PM | Updated as of Apr 18 2010 03:12 AM

OSLO, NORWAY - The Philippine embassy here in Oslo reported that overseas absentee voting (OAV) has been slow in the first few weeks after it opened last April 10.
Vice Consul Lenna de Dios-Sison said that the embassy had only received 68 electoral ballots by mail out of the more than 700 that the Commission on Elections (COMELEC) sent out to registered Filipino voters in Iceland, Denmark and Norway in February.

Returned mails

Part of the problem, Sison said, is the returned mails they have received due to wrong, incomplete or misspelled addresses of voters.

“We now have posted in our consular office in Oslo and on the embassy website a list of names whose mails had been returned so they can still contact us and exercise their right to vote,” she added.

However, Sison said that the embassy expected the voting to start slow. “Usually, dumarami naman iyan kapag crunch time na,” she said.

All systems go

Despite the slow start, Sison assured ABS-CBN Europe that the embassy’s preparations for the elections leading up to the canvassing of votes on May 10 around noon time are all in place.

“Preparations are going well. We had training on the conduct of the elections last month In Madrid, Spain had a seminar at the embassy para alamin ang kanya-kanyang role. We even had role playing,” she added.

She also said that the embassy had already received most of the materials from the Comelec that they would need for the OAV polls.

The embassy is an accredited postal voting post by the Comelec and will only receive electoral ballots from voters through the mail, except for seafarers who may cast their votes personally at the embassy if they are in the area during the election period.

But a local resident, Ruben Gerardo, who was contacted by ABS-CBN Europe News Bureau, doubted the accuracy of the approved list of the Comelec for Norway as it still has his departed mother’s name on it.  

"Sino kaya ang boboto para sa nanay ko?” he quipped.

Local community participation

The embassy has called on local community leaders here to be observers in the process of sorting and counting of the ballots.

“Once the counting starts, di titigil ang board until matapos ang pagbilang ng votes, and the ambassador will personally bring the results of the counting to the Philippines. But before that, alam na natin kung ano ang tally of votes dito sa embassy,” Sison further said.