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Voter turnout trends in the last five elections

The number of registered voters who actually voted in the last five elections varies across the provinces. However, election data show that some vote-rich areas had low turnouts while vote-poor provinces usually had high turnouts.

GMA News Research computed the average voter turnout in the last five elections—2001, 2004, 2007, 2010, and 2013 –  at 75.74 percent. 


The figure reflects that more than three-fourths of registered voters actually cast their ballots in the last five elections.

As of December 2015, there were 54.36 million registered voters. Based on the five-election year national turnout, 41.17 million registered voters may cast their votes for the May 2016 polls.


GMA News Research came up with the potential number of voters per province by multiplying the average turnout with the latest number of registered voters released by the Comelec in December 2015.

The 54.36 million registered voters are spread across 81 provinces and the Metro Manila local government units.

Comelec figures as of December 2015 show that 15 provinces each have more than one million registered voters: Cebu, Cavite, Pangasinan, Laguna, Negros Occidental, Bulacan, Batangas, Rizal, Iloilo, Nueva Ecija, Pampanga, Davao del Sur, Leyte, Quezon and Camarines Sur.  


Vote-rich, low turnout

In some vote-rich provinces, many registered voters did not cast their vote come election day.

In the last five elections, the average voter turnout in Davao del Sur is 66.23 percent, the lowest among all provinces. This means that of its 1.25 million registered voters, some 826,128 may actually cast their ballot in May but 421,234 may opt out.

These 826,128 votes are still bigger than the populations of many provinces.

Voter  turnout in the province is expected to increase with the candidacy of Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte, a top contender for President in the May 2016 polls.

However, the province lost some voters as its southern part was carved out in late 2013 to create Davao Occidental.

Davao del Sur, Rizal, and Cavite are the three provinces with more than a million
registered voters but had low turnouts.


Meanwhile,  among the provinces with the lowest turnout, Cavite has the highest number of registered voters who did not cast their vote. 

Based on the five-election year average turnout, some 590,000 registered voters in  Cavite may not cast their ballots in the May elections.

However, the province is still a force to reckon with, having 1.84 million registered voters.

Other provinces

Aside from Davao del Sur, Rizal, these provinces also had the lowest voter turnouts in the country in the last five elections: Cavite, Sultan Kudarat, Sarangani, Zamboanga del Sur, Zamboanga Sibugay, South Cotabato, Lanao del Norte and Palawan.

Still, the number of potential voters in the 10 provinces mentioned above is still higher than the number of registered voters in these 19 vote-poor provinces: Batanes, Camiguin, Apayao, Siquijor, Dinagat Islands, Mountain Province, Quirino, Guimaras, Biliran, Ifugao, Kalinga, Aurora, Marinduque, Abra, Davao Occidental, Basilan, Catanduanes, Romblon, and Tawi-Tawi.

Sarangani, one of the provinces with the lowest average turnout, has 207,952 potential voters.

On the other hand, the 19 “vote-poor” provinces have registered voters ranging from 11,006 (Batanes) to 183,879 (Tawi-Tawi).


Except for Dinagat Islands, the 18 other vote-poor provinces had a turnout higher than the national average in the last five elections.

Davao Occidental has no voter turnout record yet as it will have its first election in May.

The vote-poor provinces include the small island provinces of Batanes, Dinagat, and Siquijor. Others are secluded mountainous provinces such as Apayao, Kalinga and Mountain Province.

Batanes has the smallest number of registered voters but the highest average turnout among all provinces in the Philippines.

Siquijor, Camiguin, Catanduanes, Biliran and  Guimaras are also among the 10 provinces with the highest average turnout in the last five elections.

Historically, the Visayas region has the highest percentage of voter turnout among the big island groups—80.38 percent of the registered voters in its four regions and 16  provinces. Luzon and Mindanao had turnouts lower than the national turnout.


Meanwhile, the vote-rich provinces of Laguna, Pampanga, and Nueva Ecija are among the 15 provinces with more than a million registered voters but had turnouts lower than 75.74 percent, the average national turnout in the last five elections.

Metro Manila, with 6.25 million registered voters, also has a low average turnout of 66.52 percent.

Organized political network

Dr. Aries Arugay, a Political Science professor at University of the Philippines, says the high turnout may be attributed to organized local political network in the Visayas.

“There, local leaders have been proven to deliver votes. They have the political machinery,” he says.

Still, in terms of actual number of votes, Visayas has the least with 11.32 million registered voters as of December 2015.

With its average five-year turnout, the region has potential voters of 9.09 million votes in 2016.

More than half of the registered voters in the country are in Luzon: 30.42 million as of December. The average voter turnout in Luzon, at 74.45 percent, translates to 22.65 million potential voters in 2016.

Mindanao has 12.63 million registered voters as of December. It can bring 9.44 million votes in 2016 following its average turnout of 74.72 percent. -- VVP, GMA News