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Comelec warns voters vs double registration

Posted on: March 18, 2009

Comelec warns voters vs double registration

By Anna Valmero
INQUIRER.net
First Posted 19:39:00 03/17/2009

Filed Under: Elections, Eleksyon 2010

MANILA, Philippines—The Commission on Elections (Comelec) urged voters with double registrations to fix their entries to prevent committing an election offense.

“Double registration is an election offense but most people are not aware of the gravity of that offense,” said spokesperson James Jimenez.

Jimenez said double registration happens when a registered voter, whether deliberately or inadvertently registers anew without filing an application for cancellation or transfer of his previous registration.

According to the Omnibus Election Code, any person found guilty of this election offense could face imprisonment of one to six years.

“The problem with double registration is not just the voters, we are at fault also,” said Jimenez.

Jimenez said before Comelec computerized its voters’ list, the previous system of manual recording of registration made it harder to cross-check the registration records of two municipalities or provinces. Thus election officers could not check if voters have multiple registrations.

Jimenez also admitted that Comelec was remised in its duty in informing voters they don’t have to keep re-registering when they transfer residences. As a result, people apply for new registration when they transfer residences.

It was only in 2005 that Comelec passed an order to apprehend people who intentionally had double registrations.

Jimenez said the Comelec is serious in apprehending persons who deliberately register more than once.

Documents from the Comelec Legal Department showed that there are14,132 persons from Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) found with multiple registrations.

From 2005 to 2007, the Comelec tested the automated fingerprint identification system (AFIS) and did a random checking of multiple registrations in several provinces of ARMM.

“We used the system to cleanse the voters’ list in ARMM and we found numerous cases of multiple registrations. Even if they appear in different clothes, names or birth dates, their fingerprints do not lie,” said Jimenez.

Hearings for the cases of the 14,000 persons with multiple registrations are ongoing, said Jimenez.

Jimenez added the ongoing voters’ registration using the biometrics system is being implemented nationwide to purge the voters’ list in preparation for the upcoming 2010 elections.

The biometrics system captures voter’s photographs, digital signature and fingerprint.

If a voter volunteers to correct entries of double registration, they would not be held liable, Jimenez said.

Jimenez provided suggestions on how to prevent multiple registrations.

Election Officers (EO) can alert people about their previous registration record in another city or municipality if they are still active and if they still need to apply for a transfer of their registration record so their previous registration can be canceled.

Jimenez said voters can consult with their EOs if their previous registration is still active.

For people who have double registrations, Comelec said that they should execute an affidavit with the EO, where they are previously registered stating their desire to cancel their registration.

Jimenez said credible elections are anchored on a clean voters’ list.

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