Voter registration 'an essential activity,' says Comelec

Commission on Elections (Comelec) Spokesperson James Jimenez urged Filipinos on Monday, March 22, to register as voters if they haven't, as he said voter registration is an "essential activity" even during the COVID-19 pandemic.

"#VoterRegistration is an essential activity. #MagparehistroKa," Jimenez tweeted.

On Sunday, March 21, Jimenez also reminded the public that one lesson from the recent Palawan plebiscite was that "elections are won by the voters who show up."

The pandemic, however, has forced the Comelec to adjust its voter registration hours for the 2022 elections.

From March 22 to April 4, the Comelec said voter registration will run from Mondays till Thursdays, from 8 am to 3 pm. Within these hours, voters may submit their application to Offices of the Election Officer (OEOs) nationwide.

Voters' certification, however, may still be issued until 5 pm.

In February, the Comelec extended voter registration by two hours in a bid to encourage more Filipinos to participate in the 2022 elections. The previous schedule was Tuesdays till Saturdays, from 8 am to 5 pm.

The Comelec said that with the recent change in schedule, Friday will be allotted for disinfection of offices.

"However, in case the local government unit concerned prescribes a disinfection day other than Friday, the OEO will also be closed to the public on such day, in addition to the Comelec-prescribed disinfection day," Jimenez said.

The poll body also suspended the conduct of satellite registration in barangay halls, day care centers, covered courts, and other satellite offices nationwide until further notice.

Setting appointments online

The Comelec also called on voters to strictly adhere to minimum health standards when they register for the 2022 national elections.

Jimenez said wearing face masks and face shields is mandatory in Comelec offices and that to minimize physical contact, one can also accomplish application forms and set appointments on the poll body's iRehistro site.

Jimenez, however, acknowledged that it may take months before some voters are given an appointment date through the Comelec website.

"(Election officers) confirmed that the number of people who want to book an appointment is high. Best bet: if you can't get an appointment, simply arrive as a walk-in; you will be entertained even without an appointment," Jimenez tweeted in a mix of English and Filipino on Monday, March 22.

The Comelec aims to add 4 million new voters for the 2022 elections. The agency said more than two million people were already registered as new voters as of February 2021.

Registration will end on September 30, 2021. – Rappler.com