By JOSEPH G. LARIOSA
CHICAGO (JGL) – Overseas Filipino voters, who are interested to find out if their votes match their receipts, should vote in person, not by mail.
But if you don’t care or if you trust the Embassy or Philippine Consulate that your vote will be counted regardless if you want see the receipt or not, then you may just mail in your ballots for as long as you believe that your mail-in votes will be postmarked on or before the May 9, 2016 deadline.
This overseas voter found it the hard way when the staff in the Philippine Consulate in Chicago, who are deputized by the Philippine Commission on Election, to handle the conduct of voting were not able to properly explain to me the nuisances of the difference between voting by mail and voting by person.
It was only after I learned from a complaint of an overseas voter in Hongkong that there was a receipt that validated her vote after dropping the ballot. The complaint of the overseas voter, which was enclosed in a youtube link (http://kickerdaily.com/hk-ofw-claims-she-voted-for-duterte-but-roxas-came-out-in-the-ballot/), which went viral, led me to double check with the Philippine Consulate in Chicago how come I did not get a receipt after I filled up my ballot in the voting precinct in the Consulate.
The complainant said although she voted for “Duterte,” the receipt showed she voted for “Roxas.”
This took me aback and I wanted to find out what happened to the ballot that I filled up and informed the Consulate.
Deputy Consul General and SBEI (Special Board of Election Inspectors) Chairman Romulo Victor M. Israel, Jr. belatedly explained to me that according to COMELEC Resolution No. 10087, ballot receipts are shown only to those who voted personally, meaning those who cast their votes by receiving and accomplishing their ballots at the polling center, and feeding their ballots into the Vote Counting Machine (VCM).
Moreover, after verifying his/her votes as contained in the receipt, the voter will be asked to fold and drop it in a designated receptacle or box. Voters shall not be allowed to bring the receipts with them.
FOR THE RECORD: (Just for my record, I asked that a picture be taken of me while I was voting at the Philippine Consulate last Wednesday, May 3. I never imagined I would be publishing this picture . (JGL Photo)
When I voted last May 3, I took with me the ballot I received from the mail in the Consulate. I filled up my ballot in the Consulate voting table.
When I asked where I should drop my ballot, I was told the “batch feeding” has been closed for the day.
I was given an option to come back the following day so I will be one to drop my filled-up ballot in the batch feeding. When I asked if my ballot would be deposited with other filled-up ballots, they said in the affirmative.
But there was no mention of a receipt at all by the Philippine Consulate staff. What was mentioned was “batch feeding.”
If not from the complaint of the Hongkong voter that there was discrepancy between her filled up ballot and her receipt, I would just have kept quiet about it.
Technically, because I brought my ballot and filled up my ballot in the Consulate, I really voted in person, not by mail. The Consulate should have told me that because the “batch feeding” is closed, “we cannot hold on to your ballot and you have to come back.”
I would have gladly come back because I wanted to experience the thrill and excitement of seeing the election tools working properly.
Otherwise, I will follow the lead of the Hongkong voter, who had to complaint to media to expose the discrepancy.
Tomorrow, Sunday, I am going to accompany someone, Mr. Marlon Pecson, who has not yet voted.
I would like to find out if the voter will experience the thrill and excitement that the votes in the receipt he took matched with what he had written in his ballot.
Overseas voters have until 4 a.m. , in case of Central Time in Chicago, Monday, April 9, to come to the Consulate to personally vote.
Those mailed-in ballots postmarked before April 9 and received at noon of April 9 will still be received and counted. (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Joseph G. Lariosa
5401 West Lawrence Ave.
Chicago, IL 60630
Facebook: Joseph G. Lariosa