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OVR tally unlikely to reach 2019 levels despite recent surge, says consul

15 August 2021

By Vir B. Lumicao 

Hundreds of OFWs have been lining up to register for the election the past few Sundays

With just a month and a half to go before overseas voting registration ends, the total number of registrants in Hong Kong is still a long way away from the figure set for the mid-term election in 2019.

Consul Robert Quintin, who oversees the overseas registration and voting, said he does not expect the number of final tally for next year’s presidential election, after the Commission on Elections' deactivation of those who didn't vote in two consecutive elections, to reach the overall tally of 87,441 from two years ago.


For sure, it will never be as many as the 93,978 set a year before the last presidential election in 2016.

As Quintin spoke, scores of prospective voters queued up again in the Consulate’s public hall to register for the next general elections scheduled for May 9, 2022.

This has been the scenario for the past few Sundays at the Consulate, when hundreds of overseas Filipino workers spend their rest day lining up to register for the upcoming election.

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Quintin admitted the pro-democracy protests and the coronavirus crisis had disrupted activities at the Consulate, including the OVR, which began in December 2019.

There were Sundays when the Consulate's business hours were shortened as additional precaution due to the political disturbance, he said. 

"But we did not reduce our services. In fact, we maintaned our output for the year even with the reduced public transaction hours.

Many workers were also forbidden by their employers from going out on their rest days because of pandemic-related concerns, adding to the drop in the number of people showing up to register.


While OVR may have picked up recently, the upsurge may still fall short of past tallies, said Quintin. “Turnout for the registration has been really very low,” he said.

Quintin said the upsurge made up for only a trickle of workers who went to the Consulate to register on weekdays.

He is not entirely pessimistic, though. “Who knows, when the registration is over, we may still hit that level,” he said.

Consul Quintin says the overall tally may not reach the number set in 2019, much less 2016

Asked about the possibility of doing mobile registration in remote districts as in the past to boost numbers, Quintin said that was not possible in most of 2020, when even churches where most of such activities used to be conducted, had been closed due to the pandemic.

"We are still looking at possible mobile registration but, with the limited time left and the number of registrants coming to the PCG on Sunday, it is proving to be difficult for us to mount such activities," he said.  


Even after they reopened, they are still obliged to limit the number of worshippers in their venues, in compliance with social distancing rules.

One factor that helped boost past OVRs was the regular holding of post-arrival orientation seminars for newly arrived Filipino domestic workers, Quintin said.

In the past, workers who attended the PAOS took the opportunity to register for upcoming elections. But now that these seminars have been mostly put on hold, another helpful draw to OVR has been eliminated.

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He said it was a good thing that the Commission on Elections had opened an online system where those with exisitng voter's records can opt to go online and transact directly with the Comelec-Office for Overseas Voting regarding their concerns.

He said new registrants and those whose voter records are incomplete can use the online system, but have to go to the Consulate for the biometrics.

The process is a computerized system of taking body measurements and calculations related to human characteristics as a form of identification and access control.



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