Good news to overseas absentee voters.

For the first time, the Commission on Elections (Comelec) is adopting mobile voting in the May 2016 polls.

This means the vote counting machines (VCMs) will be brought to areas with a huge a number of Filipino voters to make voting more convenient.

And since Filipino seafarers often find it difficult to vote during elections because of the nature of their work, the Comelec is bringing the voting machines to them through the “akyat barko” voting.

“The BEIs (Board of Election Inspectors) will bring the voting machines to certain designated ports, where the ships stay,” Commissioner Arthur Lim, head of the Comelec – Office for Overseas Voting (OFOV), said.

However, the poll body is yet to identify the areas where there will be mobile voting out of the 29 posts that will have automated elections.

OAV only allows personal voting at the Philippine embassy/consulate and mail voting to the Philippine diplomatic outposts.

In the 2013 elections, the Precinct Count Optical Scan (PCOS) machines were used in Hong Kong, Singapore, Dubai, Jeddah, Kuwait, Riyadh, and Abu Dhabi.

Voter's registration in Riyadh
DFA Riyadh

With mobile voting, the Comelec expects the voter turnout next year to increase.

“Hopefully, we will also have a good voter turnout because this is presidential elections,” Lim said.

“I hope with fingers crossed, we will be able to reach the 40 percent and maybe 50 percent voter turnout,” he added.

During the 2010 polls, the voter turnout was at 153,323 (26%) compared to the 118,823 (16%) voter turnout in 2013.

At present, there are already 1,197,756 registered overseas voters and the Comelec is hoping to increase it to 1.5 million.

The deadline for voter registration for OAVs will end on October 31.


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Selies Galvez