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Despite violence, Filipinos vote today

MANILA, Philippines — After a decade of corruption-tainted politics and untamed poverty, Filipinos stood in long lines this morning to choose a new leader. Surveys indicate they're pinning their hopes on a son of democracy icons who electrified masses with his family name and clean image.

The election has been marred by violence, with at least 30 killed in political attacks. And a software glitch in optical scanning machines that for the first time will count and transmit votes in 17,600 precincts in the world's second biggest archipelago was discovered just days ago, almost derailing the vote.

In the past, manual counts delayed results for weeks and were prone to fraud; officials are now expecting early tallies just hours after the polling stations close. About 50 million registered voters in this country of 90 million will elect politicians for posts from the presidency to municipal councils.

Officials have suggested that, despite the problems, the scanners are expected to work so well that agitators hoping to disrupt the vote may have resorted to violence.

Violence has long been a feature of Philippine elections, and police said more than 30 people have been killed in campaign-related attacks, the latest three on Sunday. That figure does not include the country's worst election-related massacre, in which 57 people died in November.

A restive and politicized military, weak central government, private armies and political dynasties have stymied democratic institutions for generations. The next leader also faces entrenched corruption.

Sen. Benigno Aquino III, the only son of late President Corazon Aquino and an assassinated opposition leader, has surged ahead of his two main rivals, according to recent independent surveys.

Despite violence, Filipinos vote today 05/09/10 [Last modified: Sunday, May 9, 2010 11:09pm]
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