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MANILA, Philippines - From around 1.8 million registered voters in 2010, the Commission on Elections (Comelec) now only has around 1.5 million applicants from the recently-concluded general voters registration in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM).
Based on a statement released on Friday, August 3, by Comelec commissioner Elias Yusoph, the poll body received 1,566,795 applications during the general registration that ran from July 9 to 18. Figures from each of the region's five provinces are:
Yusoph added that the general registration in the region yielded an average turnout of 88%.
Yusoph said that compared with the number of registered voters in 2011, around 212,000 did not register anew. Comelec records show that there were 1,816,022 registered voters in ARMM during the 2010 elections. "This difference is well within the acceptable range especially if we factor in the number of previous registrants who have died or have transferred registration," he said.
This figure could even go lower, as the applications for registration would still be subjected to a post-verification process. Yusoph explained that an Automated Fingerprint Identification System will be used to spot any duplicates in the database. "This way, the final list of voters from the ARMM would be immaculately clean from minors and multiple registrants," he said.
The current total number of applications include those submitted by about 50,000 minors who were forced to join the registration. The poll body earlier admitted that election officers allowed them to fill up forms to avoid confrontation in the registration centers and prevent further delay, but promised to have them removed after screening.
The general registration in ARMM was aimed to clean up the region's list of voters and weed out problems such as multiple registrants and "flying" voters. The region has gained notoriety for election violence and massive cheating.
Around 2,000 employees of Comelec were deployed as augmentation election officers and machine operators in the 818 registration centers scattered throughout the region. Comelec obtained most of the equipment and personnel for the ARMM registration from other regions, thus temporarily suspending the ongoing registration in other parts of the country.
The poll body noted that there were isolated incidents of violence in the region, such as the death of a registrant in Lanao del Sur and the harassment of an election watchdog volunteer in Maguindanao, but still described the entire process as "generally peaceful." - Rappler.com
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