Overseas Absentee Voting Act


Overseas Absentee Voting Act
Philippines

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The Overseas Absentee Voting Act, officially known as Republic Act No. 9189, is a law in the Philippines passed on February 13, 2003 which provides for a system for citizens of the Philippines currently residing or working outside of the Philippines to vote in an election.[1] This act was a consolidation of Senate Bill No. 2104 and House Bill No. 3570, the first draft was authored in congress on July 22, 2002. The act is implemented by the Commission on Elections (COMELEC) with the help of the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA).

Contents

Eligibility

R.A. 9189 states that all Filipino citizens abroad[2] who are not disqualified by law and at least 18 years old by the time of elections will be entitled to vote. The eligible individuals are required to file their applications personally at the Philippine embassy or consulate nearest their region. They are also required to be holders of a valid Philippine passport with an accomplished overseas absentee voting (OAV) registration form from the commission on elections. For seafarers a photocopy of their seaman’s book is required. Lastly if the individual availed the citizen retention and reacquisition act (R.A. 9225), they would need to submit their order of approval application for the said act.

2004 Elections

The Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) spent a total of 112.71 million pesos[3] for the overseas absentee voters in 2004. The Philippine government put-up 89 registration centers across the globe along with 44 posts in 154 area dedicated for field registration. Data capturing machines were also based at DFA embassies and consulates. The registration period for 7 months was trimmed to 2 months.

The turnout[4] yielded 364,187 registrants where 233,092 went on to vote. The 64 percent turnout rate was lower than what was expected thus prompted the Philippine senate to do a joint congressional inquiry on December 13, 2004, Sen. Rodolfo Biazon was the preceding chairman of the committee. The factors that affected the low turnout were attributed to the following:

  • Registration period being shortened by 5 months
  • The voting requirements made it difficult for overseas Filipino workers (OFW) and seafarers who were geographically dispersed in more than 180 countries
  • The voting facilities were only limited to 87 polls
  • Limited days off at work prevented many from registering
  • Cost considerations
  • Immigrant disqualification

2010 Elections

Preparations for the 2009 registration began as early as April 2008[5] where the commissioner of Comelec took charge of the overseas absentee voting process. Comelec held consultations with non-governmental organizations, the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) and the Commission on Filipinos Overseas (CFO) to ensure that voter turnout in the 2004 elections would not be repeated. A massive information dissemination campaign was also proposed to help out in the information drive. The registration period was postponed to start on February 1, 2009[6] instead of the originally planned start date of December 1, 2008, this was done to ensure that the embassies and consulates have enough time to prepare. The registration period ends on August 31, 2009 for a total of almost seven months, two months shorter of the original plan.

Makati Rep. Teodoro "Teddy Boy" Locsin Jr has taken on the initiative to make the necessary amendment to the overseas absentee voting bill. The amendment will take off one of the requirements needed for registration, specifically the affidavit of intent to return which is required of Filipino immigrants to avail of the OAV bill. This takes away the fear of Filipino green card holders who fear that their residency will be affected by submitting this affidavit.

References

See also


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