Comelec urged to extend voters registration
Posted September 3, 2009on:
Poll chief says it’s impossible
By Anna Valmero
First Posted 19:54:00 09/01/2009
Filed Under: Inquirer Politics, Eleksyon 2010
MANILA, Philippines—Youth leaders led by Kabataan party-list Representative Raymond Palatino trooped to the Commission on Elections (Comelec) on Tuesday seeking to extend the voter’s registration until December, but this was quickly rejected by the poll body.
Palatino said Comelec should move back the registration deadline to its original date, December 15, instead of October 15 to ensure eligible voters, especially first-timers, would be able to enlist for the 2010 national elections.
The Comelec has moved the cut-off date to October to allow its project management office and technology provider Smartmatic and Total Information Management (TIM) enough time to print the ballots, which will be customized per town to contain pre-printed names of local and national candidates.
But Palatino argued it would be difficult to allow at least three million first time voters to sign up for the polls, saying each Comelec registration office could only accommodate 200 people per day.
“Of the 5.1 million new voters for the 2010 elections, only 841,200 have registered according to the Commission on Elections,” said Palatino, who filed House Resolution 1162 seeking to return the deadline of voter’s registration to December 15.
“That number falls short of Comelec’s target of at least three million new voters so there is a need to adopt the original registration deadline on December,” he said.
“The youth vote comprises 40 percent of the entire voting population in the country– a significant number in the 2010 polls. In 2007, about 75 percent of youth voters were unable to register due to the short period allotted for registration. A shorter registration period now will deprive many first time voters of their right to vote,” Palatino said.
Palatino urged new voters to visit the 1 Milyon, 1 Panata (1 Million, 1 Pledge), to get 2010 election updates and learn the requirements for first time registrants.
In a separate interview, Comelec chairman Jose Melo said extension of the registration period was impossible because the list of voters should be made available by January, just when the special paper ballots would be printed.
The poll body was considering instead to extend the registration time this October from its current 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. schedule to 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. from Mondays to Saturdays, Melo said.
“I appeal to voters, do not to wait for the deadline. If the registration period is really difficult to attend to because they have work or are studying, then allot at least a day to register,” he said.