MANILA - The first day of the automated overseas absentee voting (OAV) in London, Rome and San Francisco went smoothly on Sunday (Philippine time).
At the Philippine post in London, Filipino Community Center (FilCom) leader Adel Duenas cast the first overseas vote in the United Kingdom.
"I want to set na example na gamitin ang aming karapatan na ipahayag ang nasa loob namin, na gamitin ang puso at isip sa nararapat na opisyales," Duenas said.
Several FilCom leaders followed his lead, remarking that Filipino expatriates are more active in this year's polls.
"This election is very much different from previous elections dahil lalo na, napaka-engaged ng overseas Filipinos, which we wanted all along," FilCom leader Gene Alcantara observed.
The ballot of Eveline Gonzalez, however, was rejected by the vote counting machine because it indicated two choices for president.
"Kasi 'di ko suot ang salamin ko. Ang akala ko ang presidente ko, kasunod agad ang vice ko," she said.
Given this, election officials reminded the 25,000 Filipino registered voters in the UK to ensure that there are no errors or erasures in their ballots.
Pinoy expatriates who will not be able to cast their vote at the Philippine post may write the embassy to have the election ballots sent to their home address.
Meanwhile, in Rome, Itay, only 71 out of the total 27,000 registered voters participated in the first day of the OAV.
Benjie Austria, the first voter at the Philippine Embassy, took only 10 minutes to complete the voting process.
Philippine Ambassador to Italy Domingo Nolasco reminded Filipinos that the OAV is open until May 9, 9 p.m. (Philippine time).
OAV in US
Filipinos also experienced glitch-free polls at the Philippine Consulate in San Francisco, California.
Expatriate Sheryll Gret shared that the OAV had a faster process compared to polls in the Philippines.
Election officials expect that the majority of Pinoy voters would opt for postal voting rather than personally casting their votes at the embassy which covers 10 states.
Deputy Consul Jaime Ascalon expressed confidence that voters will be able to mail back their ballots to the Consulate before the May 9 deadline.
Based on Comelec data, there are a total of 1,376,067 overseas voters registered for this year's elections -- the highest number of Filipino overseas voters ever. There were only 737,759 overseas voters in the 2013 midterm elections.
Of the 85 Philippine posts across the globe, only 30 will adopt the automated election system. -- With reports from Paul Henson, ABS-CBN North America News Bureau; Rose Eclarinal, ABS-CBN Europe News Bureau