OFW group launches worldwide voter registration drive

Migrante Sectoral Party today kicked off a massive local and international voter registration drive to encourage overseas Filipinos and their families to register for the May 2013 national elections.

According to Connie Bragas-Regalado, president of Migrante Sectoral Party, they started a massive voter education and registration campaign as early as last year in different countries but resolved this year to “up the ante for overseas absentee voter registration through the consolidated and more massive efforts of Filipino communities abroad.”

Bragas-Regalado said that simultaneous voter registration campaigns are also being conducted in Hong Kong, Middle East, USA, Canada, Europe, New Zealand, Australia and other parts of the Asia Pacific.

“We decided also to launch a counterpart voter registration drive here in the Philippines to encourage more families of overseas Filipinos to register. Let us aim to reach, surpass even, the one million target,” she said.

The Committee on Overseas Absentee Voting (OAV) of the Department of Foreign Affairs reported that the number of applicants for 2011-2012 has so far numbered to only 34,603 —  10,237 from the Americas; 7,252 from Asia-Pacific; 8,152 from Europe, and; 8,962 from Middle East and North Africa (MENA).

The OAV deadline for registration is on October 31, 2012.

Last 2010, 589,830 overseas Filipinos registered to vote, but only 152, 323 or 26 percent voted. This figure is a far cry in 2004, when the OAV was first implemented, where 233,094 out of 359,297 or 65 percent voted. In 2007, turnout dropped to only 16 percent, or only 81,732 out of 503,896 registered overseas absentee voters.

Bragas-Regalado attributed the disenfranchisement of overseas Filipino voters to “limiting provisions” in the OAV Act, as well as the failure of some government agencies to address issues and complaints pertaining to the actual processes and implementing procedures of the OAV.

“We call on overseas Filipinos and their families to turn the tide on overseas absentee voting. There are presently 12 million OFWs around the world, let us make our voices heard and our votes counted. To do this, we call on Filipino communities to work together and work double time,” said Bragas-Regalado.

For its OAV education and registration drive, Migrante Sectoral Party also set up a blog site, www.migrantepartylist.wordpress.com, to address FAQs and how-to’s on the OAV.

“We will be giving updates on the OAV registration turnout through the blog as well as info-materials and other supplements for our kababayans here and abroad.###