Editorial: Register to vote in Dec. 2022

·3 min read

The voter turnout during the May 2022 elections was unprecedented.

Yet, despite the Commission on Elections (Comelec) extending in October 2021 the registration of new voters and the activation of disenfranchised voters who skipped two consecutive elections, many citizens were still unable to register and activate their voting status to be able to participate in the May 2022 election.

The opportunity to exercise the sacred duty to vote is opened again, with the registration of voters to start today, July 4, and close on July 22, according to a June 23 article posted on pna.gov.ph.

The registration of voters is targeted to enlist and activate voters for the December 5, 2022 Barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan elections (BSKE).

Under Republic Act No. 8189 (Continuing Voter’s Registration Act), no voter registration can be conducted within 120 days before an election.

The Comelec explained that there are many post-registration activities that necessitate closing the registration seven days before Aug. 7, which is 120 days before the Dec. 5 BSKE.

In a July 1 article posted on www.sunstar.com.ph, the National Movement for Free Elections (Namfrel) urged citizens to register as early as possible since the registration period runs for less than a month.

A mañana habit leads to overcrowding and other inconvenience for Filipinos rushing for last-day registration.

That is not helped by the Comelec’s perennial failure to implement a registration process that is widely promoted and efficiently enhanced using the latest technology.

Last year, recognizing the constraints imposed by the ongoing coronavirus disease (Covid-19) pandemic, the Comelec passed a resolution authorizing deactivated voters to reactivate online if their complete biometric data is still in the database of the locality where they are filing their application.

Targeted for online reactivation for the May 2022 general elections were about 6 million disenfranchised voters, including the elderly, persons with disability (PWD), and persons deprived of liberty (PDL).

Yet, technical glitches and lack of digital literacy bogged down online reactivation in 2021.

Working in Metro Manila but registered in Lapu-Lapu City, Homer failed to activate his voting status online. He complained that the Comelec website was inaccessible despite repeated attempts to reactivate remotely.

Instead of lessening the costs entailed by updating one’s records in person at a local Comelec office, the problematic online reactivation frustrated citizens and resulted in more expenses for data.

Comelec officials must also accommodate citizens residing outside of urban centers with limited digital literacy and little or no access to gadgets and data.

According to the Philippine News Agency (PNA), the Comelec projects 66 million voters for the barangay and youth polls, including about 23 million youths.

Next to improving the process for registration, the Comelec must view the promotion of voters’ literacy as intrinsic to its mandate.

Will a citizen register if he or she does not understand the importance of suffrage in a working democracy?

Despite the serious threat of infection from Covid-19 and constraints posed on registration and reactivation, Filipino citizens turned out in unprecedented millions to cast their votes last May 9.

The general election then was considered crucial in the selection of the next president to steer the country’s gradual transition from the public health crisis and economic lockdowns to post-Covid-19 transformation and recovery.

The BSKE is no less crucial for choosing the next barangay and youth leaders who will focus on development visions and programs at the grassroots.

Many perceive that patronage politics mars irrevocably local elections. Voters’ literacy by the Comelec and civil society should counter these biases through the education of voters and potential voters, as well as their mobilization to participate in the Dec. 5 BSKE.

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