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700,000 double registrants bared; poll watchlist issued

Posted on: March 15, 2010

700,000 double registrants bared; poll watchlist issued

By Anna Valmero
INQUIRER.net
First Posted 19:22:00 03/12/2010

Filed Under: Eleksyon 2010, Politics, Elections

MANILA, Philippines – The Commission on Elections (Comelec) will issue a watchlist against at least 700,000 double or multiple registered voters nationwide ahead of the polls in May, an official said Friday.

“The creation of the watchlist would prevent these multiple registrants to vote in more than one precinct where they have been registered. ITD will issue to Election Officers a list of voters whose registration records are not valid anymore per precinct and per district, city or municipality so they can only vote once. Voting more than once is an election offense and is punishable by law,” said Commissioner Rene Sarmiento.

The National Capital Region has the highest number of multiple registrants at 156,133, followed by Cavite with 47,016; Davao del Sur, 34,557; Nueva Ecija, 32,030; Rizal province, 28,663; Cebu with 23,602; Laguna with 20,107; Pampanga 21,758; Negros Occidental, 18,800; Iloilo, 15,783; Pangasinan, 14,734; South Cotabato, 14,637; and Batangas, 13,413, according to Comelec records.

At the same time, the Comelec ordered that the multiple registration records of the 704,542 voters, as listed by the agency’s Information and Technology Department (ITD), be destroyed, said Sarmiento.

Quoting Comelec minute resolution 09-0696, Sarmiento said the poll body would retain only the multiple registrant’s latest record if enlisted in a different district, city or municipality while those found to have multiple registrations in the same district, city or municipality would be allowed to vote using their original registration.

Sarmiento told INQUIRER.net that Comelec’s ITD used “algorithmic matching” to purge the computerized voters’ list (CVL) of redundant records by matching the names and birthday records.

All board of election inspectors (BEIs) are in turn mandated not to allow these multiple registered voters to cast their ballots in precincts where their records have been cancelled, Sarmiento said.

After the May 10 polls, the Election Registration Board (ERB) is ordered to delete the redundant registration records of the multiple registrants in the next ERB hearing, Sarmiento said.

Since the lobbying of the multibillion-peso budget for the automation contract, Comelec has been criticized by lawmakers and several watchdogs for not being able to cleanse the voters’ list of multiple registrants, which might pave the way for flying voters on May 10.

Comelec Chairman Jose Melo was firm in saying that the total cleansing of the CVL could only be “realistically done before the 2013 elections” because about 20 million of the 40 million voters registered in the 2007 polls have yet to enroll their biometrics that would be used to purge the CVL.

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