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Philippine Election Ballot Errors Plague Filipino-American Absentee Voters

"Balitang America"- The Filipino Channel, News Report, Don Tagala Posted: Mar 19, 2010

NEW YORK, NY -- The Philippines' Commission on Elections [COMELEC] sent out 8,000 absentee ballots to registered Filipino-American voters in the New York area 2 weeks ago, but 999 of these ballot envelopes could not be delivered and were returned to the Philippine Consulate in New York City. The names of the recipients are on a 24-page list at the Philippine Consulate website.

Consul Landro Lachica says the Consulate tried to rectify the situation as soon as they received the returned OAV mailing packets.
Lets say its an improper formatting of the addresses, Consul Lachica said. We try to reformat them in accordance with the local ways of doing it here, and then we send them to the intended recipient.
A close inspection of some of the envelopes revealed misspellings. One envelope meant to reach Freedom Park was typed as Freedon Park. Lachica says other recipients may have moved to a new home and have not updated their mailing addresses to the COMELEC before the ballots were sent out.
Another problem: the envelopes are labeled with a Return to Sender box that could be causing confusion with the US Postal system.
Although her name is not on the list of returned ballots, Filipino community leader Loida Nicolas Lewis is worried because she has not received her own OAV packet yet. Lewis inspected the images of some of the returned OAV envelopes and noticed the return to sender box.
There is, on the envelope of the ballot, a printed Return to Sender to make it easier for the COMELEC. But the machines here in the United States Postal Service would read that, and would return to sender immediately, Lewis said.
Several US Postal Workers told Balitang America that New Yorks computerized intelligent mail system may read this as a return to sender instruction, even though the destination address is correct. The postal workers, who did not want to be identified, also noted that printed addresses on some envelopes are wearing off.
So sa mga COMELEC Officials, sige pababayaan na naming itong mga kasalanan ninyo dito, pero ang sinasabi ko lang napaka-importante nitong eleksiyon na ito, dahil sa puwede tayong pumili ng mabuting pangulo para sa ngayong eleksiyon katapos eto pa ang gagawin niyo sa amin ngayon [To the COMELEC officials, yes, we can let these minor mistakes go, but we are just saying that this election is so critical, because we can help choose a good president for the country, and it's really difficult that we have to deal with these errors.] , Lewis said.
Lewis says shes concerned that this may cause a lower absentee voter turnout in the May 10 Philippine presidential elections.

Photo credit: www.balitangamerica.tv

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