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MANILA, Philippines – At least 67.5 million Filipinos will be eligible to cast their ballots in the 2022 elections, a number which the Commission on Elections (Comelec) said is proof that Filipinos are eager to vote despite the threat of the pandemic.
The poll body recorded a final tally of 65.7 million domestic voters as of December 14, and around 1.8 million overseas voters, a figure which could still increase.
On Monday, December 20, Comelec spokesman James Jimenez said one million Filipinos signed up for the 2022 polls during the one-month extended period of voter registration in October, exceeding the election body’s expectation of around 300,000 to 400,000 new registrants.
The Comelec had been forced to move the original September 30 voter registration deadline despite its tight election calendar after the legislative branch threatened to delay the passage of its 2022 budget.
Lawmakers earlier feared that millions of voters would be disenfranchised should the poll body stick with the original deadline, given the months of registration lost due to coronavirus-driven lockdowns.
“It’s gratifying to see that the public is so mobilized, and so intent in exercising their right, especially since around September or August, news came out that people would not vote, that some survey or another said that people were unlikely to vote,” Jimenez told reporters during Monday’s press briefing.
A commissioned Pulse Asia survey back in June found that 46% of Filipinos would be unwilling to go out and vote on May 9, 2022, if their barangays log a high number of COVID-19 cases.
“This proves the lie to that analysis, proving what we said at the time, that surveys are a snapshot in time, and not an indication of how people will act on election day,” Jimenez added.
The Comelec also called the increase in the number of voters from the past elections “historic.”
“We haven’t seen this kind of increase in a long time,” Jimenez said. “Now that they have registered, they should sustain that interest, that intention to participate, so that on election day, they actually do participate.”
In 2019, the election turnout was around 75%.
The 2022 vote is seen as a high-stakes election to choose President Rodrigo Duterte’s successor, who will face the task of leading the Philippines’ pandemic recovery efforts. – Rappler.com