MANILA, Philippines – A Filipino voter registered in Sweden sounded the alarm over possible irregularities after receiving two ballots for the overseas election from the Philippine embassy in Stockholm.
In a Facebook post on Tuesday evening, April 12 (Stockholm time), the voter, who agreed to let Rappler report on his case provided his name be withheld, posted about his experience of receiving two ballots from the embassy with two names. One of his supposed names on the envelopes was missed, as shown in photos he posted.
The voter said he received his first ballot on April 11, and accomplished it right away. Just as the voter sealed his envelope and got ready to mail it back to the embassy, he received another one the following day.
“As I went home today from work, I received another mail from the embassy. It contains almost the same elements as what I received yesterday, [but it] just so happened that my name is missed and the envelope that came from the Commission of Elections (Comelec) is missing,” he said.
The voter posted a photo of the two packets showing different ballot and envelope numbers.
“Why [did I receive] the same mail twice from the Embassy? This would be susceptible to cheating and over-voting if this would land in the hands of evil people,” he said.
The voter also questioned Comelec’s data handling, and why some elements were present in one packet, and absent in the other.
“Given that I now have two official ballots then, which one is really linked under my name? If I submit one of them now and turns out that the other one is the actual ballot linked to my name, then my vote will not be counted, right?” he added.
Rappler cross-checked the voter’s name with the Certified List of Overseas Voters (CLOV) posted on the Comelec’s website. The missed name on one of the voter’s election packets was not on the CLOV. The voter did not have a nameake under the embassy’s jurisdiction either.
Filipinos abroad have begun casting their votes for the month-long overseas voting period from April 10 to May 9.
The voter updated his Facebook post as the Philippine embassy in Stockholm responded to his concern. The embassy advised him of the correct ballot number and ballot envelope number to use, and to return the other election materials to the embassy.
The voter replied by asking if he could go to the embassy personally to ensure that the wrong ballot could be disposed of instead of possibly being sent to another person.
“Please inform me of the next steps I can do regarding this. I want to safeguard my vote this time. I hope also that someone would be accountable for this glitch, since it would be very alarming not just for me but for other Filipino voters if they came across this scenario,” he wrote to the embassy.
The embassy allowed the voter to submit the ballot personally. “We are looking into the matter and will inform Comelec of the glitch,” the embassy said.
authorities also told the voter they “elevated the concern in Manila.”
The Comelec, meanwhile, said they would wait for a report on the incident.
“Maghihintay po tayo ng tamang report, lalo na sa ating embahada o konsulada,” Comelec Commissioner George Garcia told reporters. (We will wait for a report, especially from the embassy or consulate.)
Garcia also advised the public to be vigilant against “fake news” following incidents of alleged pre-shaded ballots in Dubai and Singapore, which the Philippine posts denied.
“So sana naman po, iyong ganyang report sa Sweden and other areas, hindi totoo. Pakiusap natin, iwasan natin ang fake news,” he said. (We hope that these reports in Sweden and other areas are not true. We request for everyone to avoid fake news.)
Rappler also reached out to the Philippine embassy in Sweden for its official comment, but it has not replied as of posting. – with a report from Dwight de Leon/Rappler.com