Only 3.1M voters still without biometrics–Comelec
Some 3.1 million voters still have no biometrics data, the Commission on Elections (Comelec) said on Tuesday as it belied the results of the recent Social Weather Stations (SWS) survey which showed some 9.7 million registered voters faced disenfranchisement in next year’s polls for failure to have their biometrics taken.
“Voters who don’t have biometrics data have gone down to 3.1 million… you will know that it has really gone down substantially,” said Comelec Chair Andres Bautista in a press briefing.
As of August 30, the exact number was 3,130,377 voters without biometrics, according to Comelec.
“To be honest, we are unsure as to how the SWS came out with their numbers. I don’t know if it was the way the questions were asked or the methodology… But these are our numbers,” said Bautista.
Comelec Commissioner Luie Guia, in a separate interview, said the SWS survey report could inadvertently affect the credibility of the next elections.
“When you say 9.7 million, those are substantial numbers of those who would not be able to vote. That’s scary… So it puts into question the credibility of elections,” said Guia.
According to Republic Act No. 10367 or the Mandatory Biometrics Registration Act of 2013, voters who fail to have their biometrics taken prior to the May 2016 elections, shall be deactivated from the voters’ list and will not be allowed to vote.
Biometrics refers to the automated identification of an individual, particularly his or her photograph, fingerprint, and signature.
The deadline for the voter registration for the 2016 polls is on October 31.
The Comelec also hopes to increase the number of active voters by setting up voting precincts in malls.
“Our estimate is from two to five million voters [will benefit]. One good thing about moving our voters to the malls is it would decongest the existing public schools,” said Bautista.
He said the figure was a result of the study conducted by the Comelec’s technical working group, which is assessing the feasibility of holding mall-based voting.
Bautista clarified that not all polling centers can be transferred to malls. He said only those polling centers that were adjacent to the malls could be transferred inside the private establishments.
He said the commission en banc has already instructed their election officers to identify other private establishments capable of holding voting proceedings on Election Day.
“We really want to do this because it will enhance the voting experience,” Bautista said. The advantages of mall-voting include having cleaner, well-ventilated, and well-lit environment; enhanced security, insurance in power supply, higher chances of transmission, larger spaces, and enhanced privacy of voters.
Bautista said the Comelec has already sent malls the physical requirements of voting, including provision of an area of at least 63 square meters for each of the clustered polling precincts to be placed under direct control of the commission, preference for ground floor location, and a dedicated accessible route throughout the polling station, among others.
The poll body also provided mall owners three prototypes of voting booths, including one for persons with disability, that will be subject to the latter’s comments.
Bautista said they expect mall owners to submit their own suggestions by the end of the month before the Comelec comes up with a final decision on the matter.
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