9M without biometrics cannot vote in 2016

MANILA, Philippines – Are you a registered voter who participated in the last elections? If yes, there's still a chance you may not be allowed to vote in 2016 – that is, if your records have not been updated with biometrics data.

By the estimates of the Commission on Elections (Comelec), there are still over 9 million such voters.

So starting Monday, July 1, the Comelec will open its offices to these voters who have not had their biometrics taken, as the poll body will require biometrics to vote in 2016.

In a resolution promulgated Wednesday, June 26, the Comelec said the 9,018,256 registered voters without biometrics, or those with incomplete biometrics, can troop to local Comelec offices to have these data taken.

These voters can do so from 8 am to 5 pm starting July 1 until the end of the registration period in 2015.

Otherwise, the Comelec said, it will deactivate their registration for the 2016 presidential elections. “Deactivated voters shall not be allowed to vote,” the Comelec said in Resolution No. 9721.

By capturing biometrics, the Comelec means taking the photographs, fingerprints, and signatures of voters, among other things, and storing these digitally. The Comelec expects these data, which it stores in voter registration machines, to help cleanse voters' lists.

Voters without biometrics comprise around 17.11% of the 52,695,140 registered voters for 2013. 

What to bring

To have their biometrics taken, voters should personally appear before the Office of the Election Officer in their localities, and bring any of the following to establish their identities: 

The new Comelec resolution stems from a law signed last February.

Republic Act No. 10367, which was signed by President Benigno Aquino III last February 15, requires biometrics data before a Filipino can vote. It says the government will deactivate the registration of voters who fail to have their biometrics taken.

The Comelec first implemented the mandatory biometrics registration in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) last year. The registration ran from July 9-18, 2012, and included 1,816,022 voters.

Through its automated fingerprint identification system, the Comelec delisted around 280,000 voters in the ARMM, a region associated with widespread fraud.

Comelec chair Sixto Brillantes Jr said this is one of his major achievements in office. – Rappler.com

Paterno R. Esmaquel II

Paterno R. Esmaquel II is a senior reporter leading Rappler’s coverage of religion and foreign affairs. He finished MA Journalism in Ateneo and MSc Asian Studies (Religions in Plural Societies) at RSIS, Singapore. For story ideas or feedback, email him at pat.esmaquel@rappler.com.

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