Only 10 percent of the Filipino population in Qatar and one-tenth of those residing in the MENA region are registered voters, officials have said.
Overseas Filipino groups are working to boost that number with a massive voter registration drive ahead of the 2016 election, the Peninsula reports.
Currently, there are some 200,000 OFWs living in Qatar, and only 23,260 of them can vote, according to Rafael Seguis, foreign affairs undersecretary and chairman of the DFA Overseas Voting Secretariat.
He and two officials from the Commission on Elections are here for three days to encourage their nationals to exercise their right to vote.
Low turnout explained
About 29 percent of the OFW population – which numbers 10.5 million people – lives in the Middle East and could be a significant factor during elections, Comelec Commissioner and Chairman of Overseas Voting Lucenito Tagle told local media at a press conference yesterday.
He added that many overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) don’t vote because their employers don’t give them the time to do so.
But Philippines Ambassador to Doha Crescente Relation said the embassy is working to ensure access is granted to all registered voters here. He added that apathy also plays a role.
During last year’s elections, only 2,800 OFWs in Qatar voted, officials said. So the goal is to not only register 16,000 more Filipinos to vote, but also to ensure that they actually do so.
Gulf Times reports:
Relacion said the Philippine embassy would request Qatar to allow “field voting” to encourage more OFWs to go to polling stations outside the embassy premises. In the last registration period, the ambassador said, the embassy had conducted field registration “but maybe not in a very sustained manner.”
“So with the support promised to us for more voting registration machines, there will be no excuse for us to reach out to more OFWs in their workplaces,” Relacion said.
The possibility of voting via the internet is also being discussed, The Peninsula reports, adding that those who are already registered will automatically be eligible to vote in 2016.
Registration for overseas absentee voting runs from May 6, 2014 to Oct. 15, 2015. A downloadable form can be found on the embassy’s website here.