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Overseas Absentee Voting

Overseas Absentee VotingClick on the image above to learn more about how you can vote from overseas in the 2010 elections. But all you really need to do is bring your passport to the nearest Philippine embassy or consulate. The deadline for registration is 31 August 2009. If you're curious to know why I'm blogging about this, read on...

In "Why few Filipinos abroad register for 2010," it is suggested that Filipinos overseas do not bother to register for the 2010 elections because they are worried that their votes won’t be counted properly anyway. I don't agree.

The two main reasons overseas Filipinos like me do not register is that they do not know that they can, or even if they know that they can, sometimes they just can't.

For instance, I was unable to vote in the 2007 elections because by the time I learned that I could vote from overseas, the deadline had passed. This year, even though I had not seen any notices, I took it upon myself to find out more about the process for registering as an overseas absentee voter for next year's elections. This is what I discovered:

1. The Philippine Consulate in Toronto has no information about overseas absentee voting. There is an image with the phrase "Learn More About Overseas Absentee Voting," but clicking on it leads to a dead link.

2. The Comelec and DFA websites are either down or load very slowly, and are not always the the easiest to navigate, read or understand. I was able to download the Overseas Absentee Voting Form, but when I tried doing it again just now, I couldn't. So I uploaded it to Scribd, and if you click on the link above, you can download the form there.

3. I finally learned that the deadline for registration was 31 August 2009, and that all I had to do was bring my passport to the consulate, fill up the form and have my biometrics taken. Thankfully, I had been to the consulate before and knew where to go. And I was surprised to learn that it was so easy. I was in and out in less than five minutes. I was also told that my voter's ID and ballot would be mailed to me, so there's no need to go back to the consulate. My conclusion? The people in charge of the process know what they're doing, it's the people in charge of the websites who need to attend sessions on web design and usability.

4. Finally, there's the fact that the consulate is not easily accessible in terms of its location and office hours. Unlike most overseas Filipinos who would most likely be interested in registering for the 2010 elections, I am a student and can make the trip to register on just about any day. The majority, however, will very likely have to take a day off from work. And that's not counting those who do not live within a few hours of the consulate.
My suggestion: Set up shop at malls or churches during the weekends. There will be problems and costs involved, of course, but are they or are they not serious about this? I'm sure solutions and funding can be found. Kung gusto, maraming paraan; kung ayaw, maraming dahilan.

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