MANILA, Philippines – One million new voters.
This is the minimum target of "Rock the Vote: Isang Milyong Boto, Kumilos Sa Pagbabago (One Million Votes, A Movement Toward Change)," a campaign spearheaded by the National Youth Commision (NYC) to enlist as many first time voters as possible for the 2016 elections.
On Wednesday, May 13, NYC launched the information drive with the Commission on Elections (Comelec), the Department of Education, the Department of Social Welfare and Development, YouthVotePhilippines, First Time Voters’ Network, Benita and Catalina Foundation, and Ignite UP NCPAG.
Close to 100 first time voters joined the program and vowed to help in the nationwide registration drive a year before the 2016 exercise, where Filipino voters will elect a new president. Senatorial and local elections will be held as well in May 2016.
“Encouraging young people to register and vote is no longer just the responsibility of the Comelec. Everybody has a role to play,” NYC Chairperson Gio Tiongson said.
Rock the Vote will hold voter registration drives in key cities and provinces across the country.
One-third of voters
One of those who attended the launch Wednesday was Jamae Bagalasca, 18, a BS Economics student at the Polytechnic University of the Philippines. She understands the responsibility that goes with the single vote she holds.
“Sa mga katulad ko, sana makapagregister na sila. Ito na yung pagkakataon nila na makalahok sa pagbabago sa bayan,” she said. (To my fellow Filipino youth, please register to vote in the coming elections. This is our chance to take part in pushing for change in the country.)
The youth is a big driving force during elections as they comprise a big chunk of the voting population, Comelec spokesman James Jimenez said.
“They comprise about one-third of the voting population or about 17 million. In the last presidential elections, the winning president garnered 15 million votes. So you have 17 million who are registered youth voters and you have a president who won with 15 million votes,” Jimenez said in mix English and Filipino.
Beyond the numbers, Jimenez also noted how active and passionate the Filipino youths are, especially on social media. He said these would be rendered futile, however, unless they exercise their power to vote.
“Ang isa sa mga pinakamahirap na parte ng pagrerehistro ay 'yung pagpila at paghihintay para mabigyan ng porma dun mismo sa registration center,” Jimenez said. (One of the most challenging part of voters’ registration is queuing up and waiting to be given a registration form).
iRehistro, an online platform launched by Comelec back in 2007, aims to address this problem.
Voters who go through the online application process will only need to print out the accomplished form and proceed to their assigned Comelec office to have their biometrics taken.
“Doon siguro, wala pang 20 minutes, tapos na kayo at rehistrado na kayo,” Jimenez said. (The second part of the voter registration process would probably not take you longer than 20 minutes)
Capturing biometrics means taking fingerprints, photos, and signatures of voters . These will be stored digitally by the Comelec. Without completing this part of the process, they will not be able to vote in the coming elections.
The deadline for voters' registration is on October 31, 2015. – Rappler.com
Raisa Serafica is the Unit Head of Civic Engagement of Rappler. As the head of MovePH, Raisa leads the on ground engagements of Rappler aimed at building a strong community of action in the Philippines. Through her current and previous roles at Rappler, she has worked with different government agencies, collaborated with non-governmental organizations, and trained individuals mostly on using digital technologies for social good.