Back to zero: Re-registration of all voters proposed

Michael Bueza

This is AI generated summarization, which may have errors. For context, always refer to the full article.

If we want an efficient voting system, says Senator Koko Pimentel, it will be dependent on a good, reliable, trustworthy voters' list

ELECTORAL REFORMS. Senator Aquilino "Koko" Pimentel preside over a hearing of the Senate committee on electoral reforms on Thursday, February 20. Photo by Michael Bueza/Rappler

MANILA, Philippines – A general re-registration of voters is being proposed in preparation for the 2016 elections.

The suggestion was raised on Thursday, February 20, during a hearing of the Senate committee on electoral reforms, which is chaired by Senator Aquilino “Koko” Pimentel III.

“There are many proposals for an efficient voting system, but these are dependent on a good, reliable, trustworthy voters’ list,” said committee chairman.

Pimentel noted that the voters’ list would go “back to zero” for the entire country, except for the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM), which has cleansed its voters’ list through a general registration in 2012.

During the committee hearing, while discussing new laws for early voting and local absentee voting with the resource panel, Pimentel asked how good the current voters’ list is, and wondered if there is a need for a general re-registration.

“It is our opinion that we should [have one], sir,” said Eric Jude Alvia, secretary general of the National Citizens’ Movement for Free Elections (Namfrel).

Professor Edna Co of the UP National College of Public Administration and Governance (NCPAG) said that the recommendations for early voting and local absentee voting would depend much on the voters’ list.

“I think that is very, very crucial, and that looks like the first step among many other suggestions that we would come up with,” she said.

Ramon Casiple, executive director of the Institute for Political and Electoral Reform, said that the general re-registration of voters is the “key to the 2016 elections.”

“The voters’ list is almost 20 years old. The last general re-registration was in 1987,” he noted.

“If we look at the results of the general registration in the ARMM in preparation for the 2013 polls, half a million names were removed from the list,” he said. (READ: Cheats are messing with the voters’ list)

Out of the 1.8 million registered voters in ARMM for the 2010 polls, only 1.57 million came out and applied in the general registration in August 2012. From there, close to 240,000 were rejected by the Commission on Elections (Comelec).

The most recent voters’ registration conducted by Comelec was for the 2013 midterm elections. A total of 1.2 million new voters registered, bringing the country’s voting population to 52 million.

However, the Parish Pastoral Council for Responsible Voting (PPCRV) noted that the current voters’ list has not captured all registered voters.

“There are still those who have registered but without biometrics data. I think there is a need to do something to capture everybody before the 2016 elections,” said Johnny Cardenas, PPCRV vice chairman.

Comelec said that voters with incomplete biometrics data may not be allowed to vote in the 2016 polls–

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Michael Bueza

Michael is a data curator under Rappler's Tech Team. He works on data about elections, governance, and the budget. He also follows the Philippine pro wrestling scene and the WWE. Michael is also part of the Laffler Talk podcast trio.