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Comelec rejects calls to extend voter registration beyond Sept. 30; approves longer hours instead

By Hannah Mallorca Published Aug 18, 2021 3:55 pm

The Commission on Elections (Comelec) will not extend the deadline of the voters’ registration period beyond Sept. 30, citing “operational concerns" that may affect the timeline for the 2022 national elections. 

In a press briefing on Wednesday, Aug. 18, Comelec spokesman James Jimenez said the poll body en banc has decided to reject the requests to extend the voter registration period due to possible delays with its schedule of activities for the 2022 elections, finalizing the list of voters, and constraints brought by the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Jimenez, however, announced that Comelec has “unanimously approved” extending registration hours up to 7 p.m. on weekdays and opening voter sign-ups on Saturdays and holidays for the remaining days of the registration period. 

“The commission is concerned that if we delay the end of voter registration, it will also cause corresponding delays in all other preparatory activities, especially those that depend on the finalization of the list of voters,” Jimenez added.

Official guidelines on the revised procedures for registration will be released in a formal resolution on a yet-to-be-announced date.

Last week, seven senators urged the polling body to extend the voter registration period to Oct. 31 to “prevent voter disenfranchisement brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic." 

In a resolution filed on Thursday, Aug. 12, Senators Risa Hontiveros, Ralph Recto, Leila de Lima, Nancy Binay, Joel Villanueva, Francis Pangilinan, and Franklin Drilon, extending the voter registration period would avoid “disenfranchising voters” who are unable to register due to areas placed under enhanced community quarantine (ECQ). 

Voter registration is suspended for areas under ECQ and modified ECQ. 

In a separate interview with PhilSTAR L!fe, Jimenez said COMELEC has “already blown past its targets” in the voter registration period.

“At the start of the process, we said that we expected around four million new registrants. These are people who are going to be eligible for the first time and we've already gone past that. I think we're at 4.6 or 4.8 now,” he added.

Banner and thumbnail photo from Edd Gumban/The Philippine STAR