Voter turnout: How the PH compares to the world

HIGH TURNOUT? An elderly voter places her ballot on a precinct count optical scan machine (PCOS) after casting her vote during mid-term elections in Manila on May 13, 2013. File photo by Ted Aljibe/AFP

HIGH TURNOUT? An elderly voter places her ballot on a precinct count optical scan machine (PCOS) after casting her vote during mid-term elections in Manila on May 13, 2013.

File photo by Ted Aljibe/AFP

MANILA, Philippines – Over 54 million Filipinos are registered to choose the next leaders of the Philippines on Monday, May 9.

But based on voter turnout in the past elections, one cannot expect all 54,363,329 to actually go to their respective precincts and vote.

While the number of registered voters has been increasing in recent years, voter turnout on the other hand has been fluctuating. The average voter turnout of the past 9 national elections stands at 75.79%. 

Between 1992 and 2013, the highest voter turnout was during the 1998 presidential elections with 86.1%, equivalent to 29,474,309 out of 34,117,056 Filipinos. In that election, Joseph Estrada won as president. The second highest was seen in 2004 with 76.99%, an election won by Gloria Macapagal Arroyo.

Philippines and the world

How does one of Southeast Asia's oldest democracies fare in terms of voter turnout compared to other countries?

In Asia, the Philippines ranks 5th highest among 16 countries that conducted their elections in 2013. 

With 77.19%, the country falls behind Maldives (91.43%), Turkmenistan (91.33%), Tajikistan (90.16%), and Malaysia (84.84%). 

Meanwhile, data from the International Institute for Democracy and Electoral Assistance (IDEA) show that the Philippines' 2013 figure ranks 50th among 199 countries' latest voter turnouts in the past decade. 

It even edged out by a mile the United States which only registered 36.4% in 2014. 

Note: Click on a country to see its latest voter turnout rate and other election-related information.

The Philippines also belongs to the top 10 Asian countries with the most number of registered voters.

Can vote-rich provinces deliver?

Throughout the campaign period, candidates have been going around several areas to woo voters. But with so little time to go around, some provinces are prioritized when it comes to sorties or visits. 

These places are often the provinces with voters enough to help a candidate come May 9. 

According to Commission on Elections data, the combined total number of voters of the top 10 most vote-rich provinces is 16,889,009 – 31.07% of the entire Philippine electorate. The total is even bigger than the combined voters of island groups Visayas and Mindanao.

What is important now, however, is that all of the almost 17 million voters go out and cast their vote on May 9. But is that possible?

Based on the figures in the past 5 elections in these provinces, it might be a far-fetched dream to hit 100%. The voter turnout in these areas fluctuates. 

Among the 10 provinces, Pangasinan seems to consistently have a high voter turnout. Its average between the 2001 and 2013 elections is pegged at 80.80%. Rizal registered the lowest average of 67.05%. 

However, a high voter turnout might reflect an irregularity. Despite being a "good thing" when precincts register a commendable figure, some turnout rates may raise the possibility of cheating. (READ: Signs of cheating? Unusually high voter turnouts in 2013, 2010)

Record-breaking?

It's a few days before all Filipino voters are able to shade the circle beside their candidates of choice. But for some, it's a period of discernment whether or not they will vote at all.

Overseas absentee voters (OAV), however, already had a record-breaking turnout less than a month into their voting period from April 9 to May 9. 

As of April 28, the Comelec reported that more than 200,000 overseas Filipinos already cast their votes in their respective posts across the world. This figure is already way above the past elections' turnout: 118,823 in 2013; 153,323 in 2010; and 81,732 in 2007. (READ: What you need to know about overseas absentee voters)

We'll know soon if the drastic improvement among OAVs will contribute to a higher voter turnout among all Filipino voters. – Rappler.com

Jodesz Gavilan

Jodesz Gavilan is a writer and researcher for Rappler and its investigative arm, Newsbreak. She covers human rights and also hosts the weekly podcast Newsbreak: Beyond the Stories. She joined Rappler in 2014 after obtaining her journalism degree from the University of the Philippines.

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