Number of ballots cast in Hong Kong for election could total 65,000 Absentee voting for Filipinos living in Hong Kong will come to a conclusion this weekend as national elections in their home country are held on Monday. By yesterday afternoon, about 60,000 had gone to the polls at a community centre in Kennedy Town, representing a 68 per cent turnout out of the 88,000 registered voters. The Philippines has allowed absentee voting for the first time in the election in which President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo is being challenged by four contenders. The elections will also decide the next vice-president, 12 of 24 senators, and all congressmen and local government officials. 'There are several estimates that by the close of the polls on Monday at 3pm, from 62,000 to 65,000 Filipinos in Hong Kong would have voted,' said Lourdes Salazar, trustee and special projects adviser of the Bayanihan Trust Fund. The Bayanihan Kennedy Town Centre, which doubles as a training centre and meeting place for domestic helpers, was turned into a polling station for the voting exercise, which began on April 11. 'I think the final count will depend on tomorrow's turnout. If there are more than 2,000 voters coming, then Sunday will be busier than usual, which previously saw up to 5,000 people coming in to vote,' she said yesterday. In the past three weeks, from 700 to 1,000 people went to vote each weekday with a further 2,000 voters going in on Saturdays and about 7,000 on Sundays. Daphne Ceniza-Kuok, board member of the Centre for Migrant Advocacy, said: 'It is a priceless lesson that people have been involved in the electoral process and that we can realise our goals if we do things properly.' She said the turnout was especially impressive because they had thought the relative inaccessibility of Bayanihan 'would discourage a lot of voters from coming because it is too far'. The Centre for Migrant Advocacy, which is based in Manila, lobbied lawmakers more than four years to pass the absentee voters act. Eman Villanueva, secretary-general of United Filipinos in Hong Kong and a poll watcher, said his group had expected the turnout to be about 80 per cent. He added that the election process in Hong Kong so far had been 'cleaner than the past Philippine elections'.