By Andrei Medina/GMA News - While they know that their votes will not count, Filipinos in various parts of the Philippines participated in “mock elections” that coincided with the actual United States federal elections on November 7.
Spearheaded by the US Embassy in Manila, the mock elections are being held in places like Metro Manila, Cebu, Cagayan de Oro, Baguio City, Ilocos Norte, Davao, and Dumaguete.
At SM North EDSA in Quezon City, the US Embassy hosted “US Election Watch 2012″ where the public can participate in the mock elections and watch live elections returns
from the actual polls in the US from 10:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m.
In an interview with GMA News Online, Cynthia Cook, Deputy Press Attaché of the US Embassy in Manila, said there are 16 polling stations nationwide.
As of 11:30 a.m. on Wednesday, nearly 1,500 Filipinos nationwide have already voted.
Cook, however, said the results of the mock elections will not be revealed until around Wednesday noon.
She said US Embassy staffers do not participate in the mock elections as these are especially reserved for Filipinos, to determine their choices for US president.
Asked whom she voted for, Cook declined to reveal, saying the secrecy of the ballot is one thing that Americans treasure.
She said, however, that she has voted in every US election since she became eligible to vote when she turned 18.
Incumbent Democratic President Barack Obama is running for a second and final term in the upcoming elections. His challenger is former Massachusetts Governor, Republican Mitt Romney.
700,000 eligible Fil-Am voters
Cook earlier said some 700,000 Filipinos are eligible to vote in the US elections.
A report of the FilAm news site, however, said in the 2004 and 2008 elections, “voter turnout among Fil-Ams was abysmally low at less than 10 percent.”
On Wednesday, Cook told GMA News Online that she hopes the voter turnout among Fil-Ams would be higher in this elections.
She said 700,000 voters will have a strong impact on the US elections because every vote counts, especially in the so-called swing states that can significantly shift the win either toward Obama or Romney.
Obama vs. Romney at SM North
At SM North, students from De La Salle University in Manila assisted the mock voters as they entered their choices electronically.
Television personality and musician Jim Paredes told GMA News Online he voted for Obama because democratic values were closer to how he was raised by his parents.
Laguna Police Supt. Serafim Fortuno Petalio II, 39, said he voted for Romney because he wanted “change,” saying that the US economy went down during Obama’s term.
Datu Yoseff, 15, a student of Holy Trinity School in General Santos City, said he voted for Obama, believing that the incumbent president can learn from his past mistakes.
Leo Dacera, 14, said he also voted for Obama, saying he believes the US will move forward under the administration of the incumbent US president.
Wins in swing states
Meanwhile, Reuters news agency on Wednesday reported that Obama grabbed an advantage in the race for the White House late on Tuesday with wins in key swing states that limited Republican challenger Romney’s path to victory as US voters decided between two starkly different visions for the country.
Obama’s wins in Wisconsin, Pennsylvania and New Hampshire – all states that Romney had contested – put pressure on the Republican to score victories in Ohio, Florida and Virginia, three battleground states where the race remained too close to call.
At least 120 million American voters were expected to decide between the Democratic incumbent and Romney after a long, expensive and bitter presidential campaign centered around how to repair the ailing U.S. economy.
If the trend held up, Obama looked poised to win a second four-year term faced with a difficult task of tackling $1 trillion annual deficits, reducing a $16 trillion national debt, overhauling expensive social programs and dealing with a gridlocked U.S. Congress that looked likely to maintain the same partisan makeup.
In the state-by-state battle to get to 270 electoral votes needed for the presidency, Obama and Romney piled up early victories in the states they were expected to win easily.
Early vote-counting in the swing state of Florida showed them running neck-and-neck. Obama led in the critical battleground state of Ohio and Romney held the lead in a third swing state, Virginia.
Romney needs all three of those states to navigate a narrow path to the presidency, while Obama could afford to lose one or two of them and still win a second four-year term in office.
The Republican’s chances were hit by Obama victories in Wisconsin and Pennsylvania, as well as New Hampshire.
Romney last week visited Wisconsin, home state of his vice presidential running mate, Paul Ryan, and had stopped in Pennsylvania earlier on Tuesday in hopes of pulling off a surprise win there. He has a vacation home in New Hampshire and his last campaign rally was there on Monday night.
In a victory that also limited Romney’s path to a victory, Obama won Michigan, the Republican’s state of birth but where he ran afoul of voters by opposing an auto industry bailout pushed by Obama. Some polls had shown a tight race there.
Television networks projected Romney the winner, as expected, in Republican states Alabama, Tennessee, Mississippi, Kentucky, West Virginia, Oklahoma, South Carolina and Indiana. He was declared the winner in Texas, Kansas, Louisiana, Nebraska, North Dakota and South Dakota.
Obama was projected the winner in the Democratic strongholds of New York, New Jersey, Maryland, Vermont, Connecticut, Delaware, Massachusetts and his home state of Illinois, as well as Washington, D.C.
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