No registration extension except in Cagayan Valley
IT’S FINAL—there will be no extension of voter registration for next year’s elections, except in typhoon-ravaged Cagayan Valley or Region II where the registration has been extended one day, according to the Commission on Elections (Comelec).
Saturday was the last day for all first-time voters, transferees and applicants for reactivation and biometrics to be included in the computerized list of voters, the Comelec said.
“The Comelec en banc has decided (there will be no extension). Today is the last day of registration and our directive is to try and accommodate as many registrants as we can,” Comelec Chair Andres Bautista said in an interview with reporters on Saturday.
The poll body announced its decision even as long queues formed at several registration centers on Saturday.
The youth group Kabataan Party-list filed a petition in the Supreme Court on Thursday asking for an extension of voter registration until Jan. 8 next year.
SC has final say
“It’s up to the Supreme Court… but for us I think we’ve done enough. We allotted 17 months, that’s about one and a half years for people to register and validate their voter profiles with biometrics. Also, the media was very helpful in terms of letting people know about the registration schedule. Our mall partners were also very instrumental in our effort to serve a bigger number of registrants,” Bautista said.
He explained that extending the registration beyond Oct. 31 would derail the Comelec’s other preparations for the May 2016 national elections.
“The potential problem is it may interfere with the timeframe for our election… extending the voter registration may impact our preparations,” Bautista said.
The habit of Filipinos of waiting until the last minute has been blamed for the long queues of registrants.
Netizens also discouraged the Comelec from heeding appeals to extend of voter registration.
On Twitter, Comelec spokesperson James Jimenez retweeted @NoOtherNicky who said “Pls do not extend the registration. Let’s stick to the rules. The registration started months ago, bakit ngayon sila?”
Meanwhile, Bautista gave Comelec officials in Cagayan Valley, which was devastated by Typhoon “Lando” (intenational name: Koppu), the go-ahead for a one-day extension of registration in the area.
“It was only Region II that asked if they can extend and I think they want only one day. So we gave the election officers there the discretion whether or not to extend. That’s a special circumstance because they were devastated by the typhoon,” he said.
3M still no biometrics
There were 9.6 million voters without biometrics when the Comelec opened voter registration in May 2014.
Comelec data showed that as of September, there were around 3 million people who were still without biometrics.
Bautista said they had yet to gather data on how many more people managed to register as of on Saturday.
The poll body earlier said it did not expect all of the remaining 3 million voters to be able to update their registration records with their digital photograph, signature and fingerprints. But it said the figure would not entirely translate to 3 million lost votes.
“Out of the 3 million, many of them were dead. There were also double registrants,” Bautista said, adding that the Comelec’s “No Bio, No Boto” campaign aimed to clean up the voters’ list.
Bautista admitted that the system of voter registration still had room for improvement.
“We want to learn from the lessons of this registration so that next time, we are better prepared,” he said.
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