Voters' registration for 2016 polls begins May 6
MANILA, Philippines – In preparation for the next national elections in 2016, the Commission on Elections (Comelec) is resuming voters' registration on Tuesday, May 6.
The poll body is also encouraging 9.6 million voters who still don't have biometrics data to validate their records so they could vote in the May 9, 2016 polls.
The registration in local Comelec offices will be open 6 days a week – including Sundays – from 8 am to 5 pm. "The election officer (EO) will determine the rest day. It could be a Friday or a Saturday," said Comelec spokesperson James Jimenez.
For the meantime, voters' registration is open only to the following:
- those who are 18 years old and above by May 6, 2014
- those whose 18th birthday would fall on May 6, 2014, and on any day up to and including May 8, 2015; in this case, they can only register starting on their 18th birthday
"If you are going to turn 18 only in time for the May 9, 2016 elections – or on any day after May 8, 2015, up to and including May 9, 2016 – your registration period starts on May 9, 2015," he clarified further.
Aside from registration for new voters, the following services will also be entertained:
- reactivation of registration (for voters whose records were deactivated after skipping two successive preceding regular elections)
- transfer of registration to another city or municipality
- correction of entries in voter records
There will be courtesy lanes in local Comelec offices for the elderly and persons with disabilities, Jimenez said.
Each Comelec office is required to have one satellite registration site in their area. Additional sites could be created upon request, he added.
Existing voters may check the status of their registration record by visiting the poll body's website, comelec.gov.ph, or by going to their local Comelec office.
The registration of overseas abseente voters also resumes on May 6 in foreign embassies and posts around the world.
Travelers who will be abroad during the overseas absentee voting period – from April 9 to May 9, 2016 – may register as overseas absentee voters in select Philippine embassies abroad, or in local offices to be assigned by the Comelec. (READ: Overseas in 2016? Vote abroad, says Comelec)
The Comelec expects 3 million new voters in 2016.
A walk for voters' registration, validation
To drum up voter's registration, Jimenez said that starting May 6, he will walk across the country as part of a campaign called "Walkah-Walkah: Step Juan Tungo sa Mulat na Botante."
The Comelec spokesperson will visit Comelec offices in several towns to directly deliver information relevant to voter's registration and validation.
"People can volunteer to join us along the way, or they can volunteer for social media tasks," he continued.
At major points of the walk, the Comelec will hold biometrics clinics for voters to validate their records. "We also have to explain how biometrics will benefit everyone, and how it will clean up the elections," Jimenez added.
Out of the 54 million registered voters in the country, there are still 9.6 million registered voters who lack or do not have biometrics data, said Jimenez. If they fail to complete this requirement, they will not be allowed to vote in 2016.
Republic Act 10367 or "An Act Providing For Mandatory Biometrics Voters Registration" states that all voters should have their biometrics information (digital fingerprints, photographs, and signatures) captured during voter's registration.
Message to last-minute registrants
With the registration period extending up to Oct 31, 2015, Jimenez has a message to those who would choose to register late or even at the last minute.
The last day of voter's registration in 2013 saw "buzzer beaters" rushing to Comelec offices, with many of them failing to meet the registration cut-off. (READ: Buzzer beaters flock to Comelec)
"Over the years, Comelec has been very flexible in trying to meet the needs of the people. In the past, we have opened registration during weekends. Some local offices have even extended office hours for registration," said Jimenez.
"As far as we're concerned, giving the people the opportunity to register is our job. But there's only so much we can do," he added.
"We go through extreme lengths to deliver the message [of registering early]. So when the registration period ends and some should still fail to register, they could only blame themselves for that," he said. – Rappler.com