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Several senators push for extension of voter registration up to October 31

/ 08:07 PM August 12, 2021
Several senators push for extension of voter registration up to October 31

Comelec office in Intramuros, Manila. FILE PHOTO

MANILA, Philippines — Several senators have urged the Commission on Elections (Comelec) to extend the voter registration window to October 31, 2021 as several areas are still under lockdown following an uptick in COVID-19 cases.

In the still unnumbered resolution released on Thursday, Senators Francis Pangilinan, Ralph Recto, Franklin Drilon, Nancy Binay, Leila de Lima, Risa Hontiveros, and Joel Villanueva said that doing so would avoid disenfranchising voters who are unable to register due to the enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) status over Metro Manila and other areas.

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“Now therefore, be it resolved, as it is hereby resolved to express the sense of the Senate of the Philippines urging the [Comelec] to extend the deadline for voter registration from September 30, 2021 to October 31, 2021 to prevent voter disenfranchisement brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic,” the resolution said.

October 31 would be a month after the original ending, which Comelec set on September 30.

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The senators believe that Comelec has the power to extend the registration period, as shown in the case between Kabataan party-list and Comelec where the Supreme Court acknowledged that the poll body can set the voter’s registration deadline to a limit of 120 days before the regular elections.

“Considering the five-and-a-half-month suspension (approximately 28.3% of the entire registration period) of voter registration across the country and, after that, month-long suspensions in areas under ECQ and MECQ brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic (some areas, such as Metro Manila, lost up to 38.6% of the entire registration period), Comelec has the prerogative to set the deadline of voter registration on a later date but before January 9, 2022,” the senators said.

“Comelec set the September 30, 2021 deadline before the COVID-19 pandemic. In this connection, Comelec could not have anticipated the adverse impact of the pandemic on voter registration and must make the necessary adjustments to allow more unregistered potential voters to register,” it added.

Last June, Comelec said that they had reached their target of 4.3 million new voters for the upcoming 2022 National Elections, which brings the total to 61 million to 62 million voters.

READ: Vote Pilipinas reminds PH: 3 months left to register as voters for 2022 

Several groups have already called on the Comelec to extend the voter registration period for at least a month.  Earlier, the youth group First Time Voters Network urged the Commission on Elections (Comelec) to extend the registration hours and allow weekend registrations to cater to first-time voters exercising their rights in 2022.

READ: Youth group calls for at least a month extension for voter registration 

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For Comelec’s side, they have tried to ensure that eligible citizens can get to vote, creating a program where delisted voters can be reactivated if they follow a step-by-step procedure sent through e-mails.

READ: Comelec to reactivate 6.3M delisted voters 

Metro Manila, Bataan, and Laguna are all under an ECQ status again due to the threat of the COVID-19 Delta variant, said to be 60 percent more infectious than the Alpha variant that caused the surge last March 2021.

Due to the increase in cases, voter registration in areas under ECQ was suspended.

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TAGS: 2022 national elections, Comelec, Commission on Elections, COVID-19 pandemic, ECQ, enhanced community quarantine, lockdown, Metro Manila, Philippine news updates, Senate, Voter Registration, voter registration extension
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