May 2019 Elections:
Data Analysis of Votes, Voters, Winners

BY THE PCIJ DATA TEAM November 25, 2019 | 03:00:00 PM

EVERY three years, Filipinos go to the polls to elect local government officials in all the  1,634 cities and municipalities of the 81 provinces of the Philippines.

On May 13, 2019, three in every four or 46,937,139 of the nation’s total registered voters of 61,843,771 cast their ballot. (The latter number excludes as yet the Overseas Absentee Voters or OAVs.) 

The Commission on Elections (Comelec) pegged at 75.9 percent the voter turnout in the last balloting that was also synchronized with the election of 12 senators, and party-list and district representatives.

The right to suffrage – to vote and to be voted into public office – is firmly enshrined in Article V of the 1987 Constitution. 

Suffrage, says the fundamental law of the land, “may be exercised by all citizens of the Philippines not otherwise disqualified by law, who are at least eighteen years of age, and who shall have resided in the Philippines for at least one year and in the place wherein they propose to vote for at least six months immediately preceding the election.” 

This right knows no bounds at all for qualified citizens living and working at home or overseas. “No literacy, property, or other substantive requirement shall be imposed on the exercise of suffrage,” the Constitution adds.

Nearly a quarter of all registered voters failed to claim or exercise this right in May 2019, however. 

PCIJ queried and analyzed the latest available Comelec data for the top two positions in local government units – the vote for governors at the provincial level, and that for mayors of the cities and towns. PCIJ acquired Comelec data on voter statistics and voter turnout as of Nov. 18, 2019, and the Comelec list of winning candidates and their respective dates of proclamation as of Oct. 30, 2019.

This analysis covers the following: 

    • The number of candidates;

    • The winning candidates:
        ◦ Statistics on votes obtained by winning candidates compared to total votes counted for the position
        ◦ Statistics on votes obtained by winning candidates compared to total voter turnout
        ◦ Statistics on votes obtained by winning candidates compared to total voting population
        ◦ Statistics on votes obtained by unopposed candidates; and 

    • The political party affiliation of the winning candidates

 

Scope and Limitation of Data

This analysis used the following datasets and documents acquired from the Comelec:

    • “Number and Turnout of Registered Voters and Voters Who Actually Voted By City/Municipality (May 13, 2019, National and Local Elections)”.  This does not include data for Overseas Absentee Voters; 

    • “List of Candidates for the 2019 National and Local Elections”;

    • “List of Provincial Candidates with Votes Obtained and Date of Proclamation (May 13, 2019, National and Local Elections)”; and 

    • “List of City/Municipal Candidates with Votes Obtained and Date of Proclamation (May 13, 2019, National and Local Elections)”.

 

Definition of Terms

    • “Winning Candidate(s)” or “Winner(s)” is defined as the candidate from the list with the highest votes obtained and their date of proclamation as winners.  With the exception of the candidates from the city/municipality level, or the position of mayor, from Tugaya, Lanao del Sur and Maslog, Eastern Samar where determination of winning candidate is based on the highest number of votes only because there is no date of proclamation.

    • “Registered Voters” refers to voters who are registered in the different cities and municipalities in the country.  For the purposes of this analysis, Overseas Absentee Voters are excluded.  

    • “Total Votes” is defined as the total votes obtained by the candidate for the position in a specific area or location.

    • “Majority Vote” refers to 50 percent + 1 of the votes in relation to total votes, voter turnout, and registered voters.


Data Preparation

Initially, data from the List of Candidates for the 2019 National and Local Elections were encoded from a pdf (portable document format) file into a structured table.  The List of Candidates was acquired prior to the May 13, 2019 Elections.

Additionally, the  List of Candidates with votes obtained for the different local government positions was acquired after the May 13, 2019 elections, following the proclamation of all the winning candidates.The data were then encoded from pdf into the initially encoded List of Candidates data. This ensures that other available data from the initial document that are not present in the current document would still be available.

From the initial List of Candidates, some names no longer appeared in the latter document. Those entries were not deleted from the dataset.  One limitation of the resulting dataset is that it did not track the withdrawal and substitution of candidates.

For the purpose of this analysis, only the names in the List of Candidates with votes obtained were used. The entries that are no longer present in the latter document were disregarded in this analysis.

There are differences in the names of location entries between the List of Candidates and the Number and Turnout Of Registered Voters and Voters Who Actually Voted By City/Municipality. To be able to analyze the two different datasets, the location entries were mapped and matched with the corresponding entries from each dataset to produce the connection.

Percentages were computed for votes obtained with respect to total votes, voter turnout, and registered voters, and a column for each respective percentage was added.

The political party affiliation of each candidate was processed. Some candidates had declared more than one party affiliation; preference was given to the national political party that the candidate had declared.

 

VOTING POPULATION

 

 

The Comelec has placed the national voter turnout at 75.9 percent in the May 2019 elections. But in one for every four or 396 cities and municipalities, (24.2 percent of the total 1,634), the voter turnout was less than the national average.  

In contrast, the voter turnout in the rest or the 1,238 cities and municipalities was more than the national average.

Interestingly, one municipality registered a voter turnout of 178.4 percent, according to a Comelec document. This is Amai Manabilang (Bumbaran) town in Lanao del Sur where the number of voters who reportedly cast their ballot exceeded the town’s registered voters by 4,309. Comelec data showed that the town had a total of 5,498 registered voters but that in May 2019, it had a turnout of 9,807 voters.

Note: Amai Manabilang, Lanao del Sur is not included in the map

 

What follows are lists of the cities/towns and provinces with the highest and the lowest voter turnout percentages:

 

The top five cities and towns, by voter turnout percentages:

Province

City / Municipality

Registered Voters

Voter Turnout

Voter Turnout

(percent)

Lanao del Sur

Amai Manabilang

5,498

9,807

178.4%

Lanao del Sur

Kapai

6,656

6,535

98.2%

Maguindanao

Mangudadatu

13,051

12,794

98.0%

Lanao del Sur

Picong

10,787

10,541

97.7%

Lanao del Norte

Sultan Naga Dimaporo

26,113

25,490

97.6%

 

The cities/towns with the lowest voter turnout percentages:

Province

City / Municipality

Registered Voters

Voter Turnout

Voter Turnout (percent)

Lanao del Sur

Lumbaca Unayan

7,638

3,209

42.0%

Maguindanao

Northern Kabuntulan

13,146

6,572

50.0%

Lanao del Sur

Buadiposo-Buntong

10,538

5,271

50.0%

Maguindanao

Cotabato City

114,083

57,812

50.6%

Maguindanao

Datu Saudi Ampatuan

17,195

8,830

51.4%

 

The top five provinces, by voter turnout percentages:

Region

Province

Registered Voters

Voter Turnout

Voter Turnout (percent)

Central Visayas

Siquijor

76,225

64,823

85.0%

Cordillera Administrative Region

Abra

177,058

149,281

84.3%

Cordillera Administrative Region

Kalinga

137,658

115,329

83.8%

Central Visayas

Bohol

898,682

745,557

83.0%

Ilocos Region

Ilocos Sur

457,770

379,173

82.9%

 

The provinces with the lowest voter turnout percentages: 

Region

Province

Registered Voters

Voter Turnout

Voter Turnout (percent)

CALABARZON

Rizal

1,620,609

1,055,553

65.1%

CALABARZON

Cavite

2,148,899

1,448,408

67.4%

BARMM

Basilan

263,017

179,029

68.1%

Davao Region

Davao del Sur

1,410,190

965,327

68.5%

CALABARZON

Laguna

1,903,107

1,342,861

70.6%

 

 

THE GUBERNATORIAL RACE

A total of 268 candidates ran for governor in the 81 provinces of the Philippines in the May 13, 2019 elections.

The number ranged from as low as one (unopposed) to as high as nine candidates for the various provinces.

Below is a distribution of the number of candidates for governor across the nation’s provinces.

 


Two candidates ran for governor in 26 provinces (32.1 percent), while three competed for the post in 20 other provinces (24.7 percent), out of the nation’s 81 provinces. 

Basilan province in BARMM had the highest number of candidates for governor, 9 in all.

In contrast, eight provinces had single, unopposed candidates for governor – Tarlac, Quirino, Northern Samar, Ilocos Norte, Davao Oriental, Davao Occidental, Compostela Valley, and Apayao.

 

Winning Votes

 


Of the 81 winners, 20 candidates or 24.7 percent won with at least 80 percent of the total votes. Fifteen of them bagged at least 90 percent of the total votes. The eight unopposed candidates automatically got 100 percent of the total votes.

On the other hand, and equally interesting, nine or 11.1 percent of the winning candidates won with less than 50 percent of the total votes. At the extreme is the winning candidate from Kalinga province who garnered only 35.8 percent of the total votes.

That data drastically changes when the winning votes are compared to the voter turnout on the provincial level:

 

 

Of the candidates with rivals, only three obtained more than 80 percent of the votes in their provinces  -- Quirino in Cagayan Valley (86.4 percent), Batangas in CALABARZON (81.0 percent), and La Union in the Ilocos Region (80.8 percent). 

About 40.7 percent or 33 of the 81 winning candidates for governor obtained votes less than 50 percent of the voter turnout in their respective provinces. 

The winning candidate who got the lowest percentage of votes against voter turnout ran in Davao del Sur. The candidate won only 19.2 percent or 185,000 of the 965,327 total votes cast. The province has 1.41 million registered voters in all.

When the winning votes are compared against the total registered voters in each area, the distribution yields this graph:

 

 

No winning candidate obtained a vote higher than 80 percent of the total registered voters in any province. 

The three candidates who scored the highest percentage of votes obtained against the total registered voters in their respective provinces came from La Union (Ilocos Region) with 65.5 percent; Quirino (Cagayan Valley) with 64.9 percent, and Guimaras (Western Visayas) with 64.3 percent.

Significantly, 61 (75.3 percent) of the 81 winning candidates for governor secured their victory with less than 50 percent of the registered voters in their respective provinces. 

The lowest percentage of votes obtained against the total registered voters – 13.2 percent – was registered by a winning candidate for governor in Davao del Sur (Davao Region).

 

 

A density plot like the one shown above is like a "smoothed-out" version of a histogram to better visualize the shape of the distribution. 

In this particular case, due to the jagged shape of the histograms above, the density plots will only slightly approximate the shapes of the histograms. However, the general positioning of the distributions can still be analyzed. 

As we move from the votes obtained by the winner vs. the total votes (in blue), to the voter turnout (in orange), to the registered voters (in green), we find that the positioning of the density plot changes, shifting further and further to the left. 

This indicates that although many of the candidates received the majority vote with respect to the total votes cast or the voter turnout, the general distribution indicates that the majority of the candidates are not representative of the entire voting population or registered voters of their respective provinces.

 

Unopposed Candidates

In the May 13, 2019 elections, eight of the total 81 provinces in the country had a single or unopposed candidate for governor.  These provinces are:

 

Region

Province

Cordillera Administrative Region

Apayao

Ilocos Region

Ilocos Norte

Cagayan Valley

Quirino

Central Luzon

Tarlac

Eastern Visayas

Northern Samar

Davao Region

Compostela Valley

Davao Region

Davao Occidental

Davao Region

Davao Oriental

 

Because they had no rivals, these candidates were recorded to have obtained 100 percent of the total votes cast for the position they had sought. Here’s a comparison of total votes against voter turnout and registered voters in these provinces:

 

 

When the votes obtained by the unopposed candidates in the eight provinces are compared to the voter turnout in their respective areas, all of them managed to get the majority approval of those who voted. But this also means that some voters either opted not to vote for the unopposed candidate or cast an invalid vote.

The unopposed candidate from Quirino managed to get 86.4 percent of the voter turnout, the highest of the eight provinces. The other 13.6 percent of voters either did not support the candidate or cast invalid ballots.

In contrast, the unopposed candidate from Northern Samar obtained only 54.8 percent of the votes cast. Another 45.2 percent of those who voted either did not vote for the candidate or cast an invalid vote.

Five unopposed candidates managed to obtain votes in the range of 70 to 80 percent of the voter turnout in their respective provinces, while the remaining two obtained votes in the 60 to 70 percent range.

Meanwhile, when the votes obtained are compared to number of registered voters, seven of the unopposed candidates managed to obtain a majority of the registered voters in the respective provinces. 

Four obtained votes within the 60 to 65 percent range, with the candidate in Tarlac topping the list at 64.8 percent.  Three other  unopposed candidates got votes in the 50 to 60 percent range.  

The unopposed candidate from Northern Samar secured only 41.7 percent vote out of the total registered voters.

 

Political Parties

In more than half or 41 of the nation’s 81 provinces, the winning candidates for governor ran under the political party Partido Demokratiko Pilipino-Lakas ng Bayan (PDP-Laban).  At least one governor in each of the regions of the country ran and won under the PDP-Laban banner in the May 2019 elections.

In certain regions, more candidates for governor affiliated with the PDP-Laban party  won in the last elections -- in four of the six provinces of the Cordillera Administrative Region; in four of five provinces of MIMAROPA; in four of the six provinces of Bicol Region; and in four of the six provinces of Eastern Visayas.

All three winning gubernatorial candidates in Zamboanga Peninsula ran under the same party. Western Visayas and Central Visayas each similarly got three winning candidates for governor, also from PDP-Laban.

The National Unity Party (NUP) placed second in terms of number of winning candidates for governor. Nine other winning candidates are affiliated with NUP,
followed by eight from with the Nacionalista Party (NP), and seven with the Nationalist People’s Coalition (NPC).

 

 

 

THE MAYORAL RACE 

In the nation’s 1,634 cities and municipalities, the May 2019 elections drew a mixed picture of single, unopposed candidates to as many as 11 candidates competing for the position of Mayor. 

Below is a distribution of cities and municipalities against the number of candidates who ran for mayor:

 


In 845 or 51.7 percent of the total cities and municipalities, two candidates competed in the mayoralty race. 

In 368 cities and municipalities (22.5 percent), three candidates ran for mayor. 

But in yet another 217 cities and municipalities, though, a single, unopposed candidate ran for mayor. 

In the rest of the cities and municipalities, from four to nine candidates slugged it out in the mayoral race.

The biggest number of candidates for mayor in an area, 11, was recorded in the municipality of Lumbatan in Lanao del Sur.

 

Winning Votes

 

 

Of the 1,634 total winners, only a fourth or 428 candidates (26.2 percent) obtained at least 80 percent of the total votes. Of this, 300 candidates (18.4 percent) candidates won at least 90 percent, including the 217 (13.3 percent) unopposed candidates who automatically got 100 percent of the total votes.

In contrast, 141 winning candidates for mayor (8.6 percent) secured less than 50 percent of the voter turnout in their respective areas. At the extreme end is the winning candidate from Borongan, Eastern Samar who garnered only 26.7 percent or a fourth of the total votes for the position in the area.

A totally different picture emerges when the winning votes that the candidates got are compared against the voter turnout in their respective areas:

 

 

At least 210 winning candidates for mayor obtained more than 80 percent of the voter turnout. Another 40 winning candidates for mayor (2.4 percent) obtained votes within the range of 90 to 100 percent.

But two candidates obtained more than 99 percent of the voter turnout. They ran and won in  Pantao Ragat, Lanao del Norte (99.3 percent), and in Picong, Lanao del Sur (99.0 percent).

In two other areas, though, data from Comelec documents showed an apparent irregularity with data entries: Two candidates reportedly obtained votes that far exceeded the total voter turnout or the number of votes actually cast in their areas.

These “anomalous” or irregular data entries were recorded in Comelec reports for the winning candidates for mayor of the municipalities of Bubong and Buadiposo-Buntong in Lanao del Sur.

 

Province

City / Municipality

Votes Obtained

Voter Turnout

Registered Voters

Lanao del Sur

Bubong

9,046

8,956

12,979

Lanao del Sur

Buadiposo-Buntong

7,474

5,271

10,538

 

The table above shows the votes obtained by the winning candidates for mayor, and the voter turnout and the registered voters in two towns of Lanao del Sur. The actual voter turnout – the expected maximum vote any candidate can obtain – has been surpassed in these two towns.

 

Province

City / Municipality

No. of Candidates

Total Votes

Voter Turnout

Registered Voters

Lanao del Sur

Bubong

3

9,249

8,956

12,979

Lanao del Sur

Buadiposo-Buntong

7

8,707

5,271

10,538

 

These two towns saw multiple candidates running for the post of mayor. If all the votes they obtained were added up, and compared with the voter turnout, the irregular data entries get inflated a bit more.

In contrast, only 334 winning candidates for mayor (20.4 percent of total) obtained 50 percent or less of the voter turnout in their respective cities and municipalities. 

The lowest percentage of votes obtained vs. voter turnout was recorded for the winning mayoralty candidate of Borongan, Eastern Samar at 25.4 percent.

When the winning votes are then compared against the total registered voters in each area, the distribution yields a different picture:

 

 

Of the 1,634 winning candidates, only 29 or 1.8 percent obtained votes higher than 80 percent of the total registered voters in their respective cities and municipalities. Only 13 winning candidates obtained more than 90 percent of the registered voters’ support.

The three highest percentage of votes obtained against the total registered voters came from Picong, Lanao del Sur (96.8 percent); Pantao Ragat, Lanao del Norte (95.8 percent); and Pandag, Maguindanao (95.5 percent).

Significantly, 1,039, or 63.6 percent of the 1,634 winning candidates obtained less than 50 percent of the registered voters to secure their victory. 

The lowest percentage of votes obtained against total registered voters was recorded for the winning candidate for mayor from Rodriguez, Rizal, 19.4 percent.

 

 

The plots in the figure above are called "box plots" in statistical analysis. They divide the data into "quartiles", with each section representing a quarter or 25 percent of the data. 

The important point about these plots are the circular dots on either sides of the boxes. These represent outliers in the data set. For example, in the Voter Turnout box plot, we can see a single outlying point at around ~140 percent. This corresponds to one of the anomalous data points where the winning candidate received more votes than the actual reported voter turnout.
In the first box plot, the Registered Voters, we can see that there are quite a few outliers. It should be noted that outlying data points do not necessarily indicate “anomalous” data. Outlying points in a box plot is defined by the shape and variability of the distribution itself. We examine the outliers in the succeeding paragraphs.

 


Similar to the gubernatorial race analysis, the plots above shift to the left as we go from votes obtained by winner vs. total votes, to voter turnout, to registered voters. 

There is only a slight shift to the left from total votes to voter turnout, but the striking shift occurs with the registered voters. 

It should be noted that the histogram shapes are less jagged in this analysis, so the density plots are better approximations of the overall shape of the distribution. 

The histogram shows that the peaks of the voter turnout and total votes lie beyond 50 percent or the majority vote delineation. 

However, the peak of the registered voters density plot lies below this delineation, indicating that many candidates may be considered to be less than fully representative of the majority of the voting population. 

The analysis above shows that 63.6 percent of the winning candidates for mayor – or two in every three across the nation -- did not receive the absolute majority vote of the voting population.

 

Unopposed candidates

In the May 13, 2019 elections, 217 of the total 1,634 cities and municipalities in the country had a single or unopposed mayoral candidate.

They automatically got 100 percent of the total votes for the position they had aspired for. Below is the data picture that emerges when the votes obtained by unopposed candidates are compared to voter turnout and registered voters data.

 


Similar to previous analyses, there is a shift to the left when going from the voter turnout density plot to the registered voters density plot. In this scenario, however, we find that both plots still have peaks beyond 50 percent, indicating that for the unopposed candidates, most of the winners achieved the majority vote with respect to the total voting population in their respective municipalities.
 

Political Parties

 

Of the 1,634 winning candidates for mayor, one in three or 605 (37.0 percent) ran under the Partido Demokratiko Pilipino - Lakas ng Bayan (PDP-LABAN) party.

A far second is the Nacionalista Party (NP) which fielded 240 (14.7 percent) candidates for mayor who won. The Nationalist People’s Coalition (NPC) and National Unity Party (NUP) had 173 (10.6 percent) and 138 (8.4 percent) winning candidates for mayor, respectively. – With research and data curation work by Justin Oliver Fiestada, Dyesel Cezar,  Dearlyn de Luna, and Aiza Seguiro, Philippine Center for Investigative Journalism, November 2019