More than 1,500 registered Filipino voters on Saipan have cast their votes for the 2016 Philippine National Elections.
The four-day field voting for overseas absentee Filipino voters on Saipan concluded at the Pedro P. Tenorio Multi-purpose Center in Susupe yesterday.
According to Philippine Consulate General-Guam consul Mark Hamoy, chair for the Special Ballot Reception and Custody Group, the total returned ballots were at 1,520.
Several more have claimed their ballots but have not yet returned them and may send them to Guam until the closing period on May 9.
“All the returned ballots we’ll bring with us, then the unclaimed ballots will be shipped back also tomorrow,” Hamoy said, who will be flying back to Guam tomorrow with SBCRG member Cristy Yap.
They were deputized by the Philippine Commission on Election to conduct the field voting on Saipan.
Hamoy said the number of Filipinos exercising their right to vote was progressive throughout the four days starting with about 300 on the first day to almost 500 on the last day.
“I’m glad that despite our operations being a weekday, there was a significant turnout especially the last day. Some people were even calling their friends who are included in the list of voters. This is a very important election and I hope that the Filipino voters will lead us to a new set of Filipino leaders who will continue what we have achieved in the past,” Hamoy said.
“I would expect this is more than 2013 because this year is a presidential election year. Compared to mid-term elections, usually there is greater turnout during presidential elections,” he added, “Unfortunately we couldn’t stay longer especially during a weekend, it would have helped boost the turnout.”
Asked how soon will the ballots be transferred to the Special Board of Election Inspectors and fed to the automated vote counting machine stationed in Guam, Hamoy said they would still need to check the validity of the returned ballots based themselves and count.
“As SBRCG, we will still tally our actual counts before we turn them over to the Special Board of Election Inspectors,” Hamoy said.
Although there were no major issues with the casting of votes, Hamoy said looking at the return envelopes, there may be some ballots that will be rendered invalid.
Voters had to properly seal the envelope for the ballot using the paper seal and write their name and signature on the proper side of the envelope.
There are 5,768 registered voters in the CNMI. While ballots for Tinian and Rota were said to have been distributed by mail, more than 10 boxes of unclaimed ballots were repacked at the end of the field voting period yesterday.
The ballots will no longer be of use since the request period to mail them is already over.
Asked what will they do with the ballots, Hamoy said they are not sure yet.
“Unclaimed ballots, those are useless ballots. We will wait for what the Comelec says we’ll do with it.” Hamoy said.
Valuable volunteers who helped with the four-day field voting on Saipan were the Marianas Institute of Filipino CPAs and Accountants headed by their president Butch Ordas, United Filipino Organization, Rose Soledad of IT&E, and the Office of Honorary Consul to the Philippines Glicerio Arago.
Meanwhile, the Republic of Palau has also finished with their field voting scheduled last April 20 to 22.
For other areas under PCG-Guam’s jurisdiction such as Federated States of Micronesia and the Republic of Marshall Islands ballots were also sent through mail.
Overseas absentee voting in Guam, where there are more than 3,000 voters, will continue until May 9.
There are about 11,900 registered Filipino voters under the PCG-Guam’s jurisdiction.