Five-fold increase in turnout of Filipino voters in SoCal

By Steve Angeles, ABS-CBN North America News Bureau

Posted at May 10 2013 09:56 AM | Updated as of May 10 2013 05:56 PM

LOS ANGELES - It's the home stretch for the 2013 Overseas Absentee Voting for the Philippine midterm elections, and so far, Southern California has had a positive turnout.

The Philippine Consulate in Los Angeles said that the voting process has gone smoothly with just under 2,800 ballots received as of Wednesday-- the highest turnout in that area.

"If you're really interested to help nurture change in the Philippines then you must exercise your right to suffrage. Cast your ballot at the Philippine Consulate General or mail them. It's not too late," said Consul General Ma Helen Barber Dela Vega.

While some 3,600 voters cast ballots in the 2010 presidential election, Dela Vega is delighted that this year's midterm elections has increased compared to the 2007 midterms, when less than 500 Filipinos voted.

"A five-fold increase because we have as of yesterday 2,783 so this is in a way, a good sign," she said.

Dela Vega advises that to ensure on time delivery, ballots should be mailed no later than Friday. The consulate will be open throughout the weekend to accept last minute hand delivered ballots.

"Those who have not received their ballots and who have registered in 2007 and 2010 please do come to the consulate and we will enable you to cast your ballot as well," she explained.

At stake in these midterm elections are seats for a dozen senators, 200 members of congress and 80 governors. Overseas absentee voters however can only vote for national positions.

The Commission on Elections estimates there are over 900,000 overseas voters globally. Under voting rules, Filipino voters can risk their voting eligibility if they fail to vote in two consecutive elections.

Monday morning 3 a.m. is the final deadline to submit ballots and at about 4 a.m., consulate officials will manually count each vote.