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MANILA, Philippines – The Philippine embassy in Singapore acknowledged an incident on Monday, April 11, in which a voter was given a spoiled ballot from the day prior, when overseas absentee voting for the 2022 elections kicked off.
“This was subsequently recorded in the official OVF No. 11-A (minutes of voting for automated election system voting posts),” the embassy said in a statement. “We wish to stress that this was an isolated incident.”
The embassy maintained that pre-shaded ballots were not given to voters who visited their compound to cast their ballots.
The statement came after an overseas voter in Singapore recounted her voting experience in a Facebook post that has been shared over 1,100 times already as of writing.
“The ballot I received came pre-shaded. When I returned it and asked to have it replaced, I was told it was a spoiled ballot from yesterday. It could be an honest mistake, but we should not allow mistakes like this to happen,” Cheryl Abundo said in a mix of English and Filipino.
She later updated her Facebook post to say that the spoiled ballot she returned has been voided, citing a poll watcher she had a conversation with.
When the Comelec held its press conference over an hour before the Philippine embassy issued its statement, it was apparent that the poll body had not yet been informed about the incident.
“We have not received any report from that post, and from any of our officials in Singapore, and therefore, that’s ‘fake news,'” Comelec Commissioner George Garcia said in Filipino, although he added in the same briefing that the poll body will have to countercheck the tip with the embassy.
If someone receives a pre-shaded ballot, express your opposition, make sure it is included in the minutes.Marlon Casquejo, Comelec commisisoner
“If someone receives a pre-shaded ballot, express your opposition, make sure it is included in the minutes,” Comelec Commissioner Marlon Casquejo also said.
Reports of logistical difficulties marred the first day of voting in some Philippine posts abroad, resulting in a delayed start of voting in at least six consular offices.
But Casquejo said some of the issues were due to COVID-19 complications, and were unavoidable. He asserted the launch of overseas voting was still generally peaceful and successful.
Over 1.6 million Filipinos abroad are eligible to cast their ballots ahead of the May 9 vote, which will determine President Rodrigo Duterte’s successor. – Rappler.com