Business Mirror : Comelec sees 30-40% fewer mail voters as postage costs now passed on to them

20 September 2021

By Business Mirror

BECAUSE of postage costs, the Commission on Elections is bracing for a lower turnout of voters abroad who will be sending their ballots via mail in the 2022 elections.

Poll officials said this will be the likely outcome since Comelec will no longer be able to pay for the postage stamps necessary for overseas absentee voters (OAV) to resend their ballots after the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) slashed their proposed 2022 budget.

In a television interview last week, Comelec Chairman Sheriff Abas said they asked for P150 million to provide for the free stamps, but it was rejected by DBM.

Comelec spokesperson James Jimenez said they now anticipate a 30-40 percent decline in the number of mail voters in the elections next year.

There are currently about 1.4 million registered overseas absentee voters.

“One of the strengths of mail voting is not to leave your house and just mail the packet,” Jimenez said.

“But to go out of your way to buy a stamp, that defeats the purpose. I think there would be a significant number of overseas voters that would be turned off by that,” he added.

Abas said they hope Congress will grant their request to restore the P150-million proposed budget for the postage stamps during the ongoing hearings for the 2022 General Appropriations Act (GAA).

“There are some congressmen who want to put it back in the budget. We will see what happens after the deliberations,” Abas said.