Comelec seeks to register 1.6 million more overseas voters for 2022 elections

The Commission on Elections (Comelec) said on Friday, June 11, that it is aiming to register 1.6 million more Filipinos for overseas voting in the 2022 national elections.

Based on the poll body's data, there were 1.42 million registered overseas voters as of May 19 after the Comelec "cleansed" its records by removing multiple registrants in the system.

With only three months left before the deadline of voter registration on September 30, the poll body expressed cautious optimism about achieving its goal.

"We're constantly in touch with the Department of Foreign Affairs about reaching this 1.6 million registered voters," said Philip Marin, lawyer at the Comelec Office of the Overseas Voting, during the poll body's press conference.

"Minsan ang ibang mga OFW hindi na interesadong bumoto. Pero kapag na-reach out sa relatives and friends dito sa Pilipinas for them to convince these qualified voters to register, we might be able to reach it," he added.

(Sometimes, some overseas Filipino workers are no longer interested to vote. But if their friends and relatives here in the Philippines convince them to register, we might be able to reach it.)

However, Marin said the poll body only expects a "rough estimate" of 580,212 overseas Filipinos to participate in the 2022 elections.

Comelec spokesperson James Jimenez said the COVID-19 pandemic factored in the poll body's expectations.

"The estimate is informed by the fact that we are in the middle of a pandemic, so we're a little conservative," Jimenez said.

In the 2019 elections, there were 1.8 million registered overseas voters, but turnout was only around 18%, or around 330,000 voters, based on Comelec's data.

The poll body reminded Filipinos who will be abroad during the overseas voting period from April 10 to May 9, 2022, to register at either of the following: 

  • Any foreign service posts abroad
  • Designated registration centers outside the post
  • Designated registration centers in the Philippines

Filipinos who were once overseas but intend to vote in the Philippines in 2022 may update their records at local Comelec offices in their areas in the country.

The reminder came after the Department of Foreign Affairs repatriated 327,511 migrant Filipinos in 2020 for pandemic-related reasons. —