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Extended voters registration starts next week

Posted on: December 16, 2009

Extended voters registration starts next week

By Anna Valmero
INQUIRER.net
First Posted 15:08:00 12/16/2009

Filed Under: Elections, Eleksyon 2010

MANILA, Philippines—Following the Supreme Court ruling that extends the voters’ registration to January 9, the Commission on Elections (Comelec) will start accepting voter applications next week, a poll official said Wednesday.

Comelec commissioner Rene Sarmiento told INQUIRER.net that based on preliminary discussions of the en banc regarding the ruling, the extended voters’ registration will run from Mondays to Fridays between 8a.m. to 5p.m.

The Supreme Court on Tuesday granted the petition of Kabataan Partylist Representative Raymond Palatino to nullify the Comelec resolution fixing the deadline of registration to Oct. 31, 2009.

Holding registration during Christmas holidays and weekends is still being considered by the poll body if there would be a surge of voters flocking registration centers again, as seen during the last days of registration on the last week of October and early November, said Sarmiento.

Sarmiento said extending the registration period beyond office hours would incur additional budget and Comelec has to justify first the need for the additional hours before its implementation.

“Right now we are collating the inventory of our registration paraphernalia and equipment like the registration forms and data capturing machines for biometrics, after which we will hold the registration nationwide since the decision is immediately executory,” Sarmiento said.

But the official is worried that with the new ruling, preparations for the 2010 elections especially the printing of ballots slated between January and February 2010 will be delayed.

The petition of Kabataan party citing Voter’s Registration Act of 1996, which states that registration of voters shall be conducted daily but prohibited only during 120 days before a regular election or on Jan. 10, 2010 is “applicable only to manual elections” that requires only three to four months of preparations, said Sarmiento.

Ballots for manual elections, which only contain blank spaces where voters would write the name of candidates for a position is easy to mass produce unlike special ballots for automation requiring studies for font size, spacing and prevention of over-voting and finally, configuration per municipality or city and per polling precinct.

Sarmiento added the Comelec will seek “further clarifications” with the Supreme Court if the extended registration only covers first time voters and not those who will validate their biometrics/or update/reactivate their voters’ records.

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