SOME 4.3 million voters, sizable enough to spell victory or def eat to any presidential or national candidates, may not be able to vote next year because they are yet to submit to mandatory biometric registration, according to the Commission on Elections (Comelec).
Comelec Chairman Andres Bautista on Sunday noted that more than a year after the resumption of the mandatory biometric registration, the turnout remains low.
“Republic Act 10367 requires all voters to submit their biometric information to the Comelec or face disenfranchisement in 2016,” Bautista warned.
He called on voters to participate in the elections, particularly in disseminating the poll body’s “no bio, no vote” campaign.
“People should get involved. Kailangan namin ang tulong ng lahat. Marami ang hindi makakaboto sa susunod na eleksyon kung wala silang biometrics [We need everybody’s help. Many will not be able to vote in the coming elections if they have no biometrics],” Bautista pointed out.
According to him, citizens may help the Comelec by acting as volunteer voter educators in their communities by simply informing their neighbors about the need to validate their registration so that they can join next year’s electoral exercise.
The poll chief said local Comelec offices can provide these volunteers with a list of voters without or with incomplete biometrics in their area.
Volunteers need only visit the Office of the Election Officer to request a copy of the list, he added.
Bautista also urged the youth to help in the campaign by maximizing social media platforms to amplify the poll body’s call.
Comelec spokesman James Jimenez attributed the low turnout to what he described as the “last minute” habit of Filipinos.
The Comelec is processing close to three million new voters, bringing the total number of registered voters to 55 million.
Jimenez said to encourage qualified new voters to register and those already registered to have their biometrics taken, the Comelec had made the process easy.
To speed up the process, he said, qualified new voters may download an application form online and then proceed to the Comelec office nearest them to undergo the biometrics procedure, which entails capturing of a voter’s picture, signature and fingerprints.
According to him, first-time voters are only required to present a valid identification card, such as driver’s license, passport, school ID or postal ID.
The Comelec has implemented satellite registration in various barangay and opened priority lanes for senior citizens, persons with disability and pregnant women.
“Beyond merely delivering information, the commission must also take steps to mobilize these vulnerable voters, to actually get them to the registration centers where their biometric information can be captured,” Jimenez said.