By SAMUEL MEDENILLA AND BUTCH FERNANDEZ | Business Mirror
NEARLY 5 million new voters will now be able to participate in the 2022 National and Local polls, according to the Commission on Elections, which on Tuesday reiterated its inclination not to extend the period for voter registration on account of the new quarantine restrictions.
In a radio interview on Tuesday, Comelec spokesman James Jimenez said the number of newly registered voters has now reached 4.6 million—exceeding the 4-million target of the poll body.
With this development, he said, over 60 million voters are now expected to participate in the elections next year.
The poll official said the high turnout of first-time voters is one of the reasons why Comelec is currently not considering resetting the deadline for its ongoing voters registration, even if the said activity is currently suspended in some parts of the country.
Comelec postponed voter registration in areas, which were placed under enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) and modified ECQ (MECQ) due to rising cases of novel coronavirus disease (Covid-19).
Among the said areas will be Metro Manila, which will be placed under ECQ from August 6 to 20, 2021.
Jimenez said they plan to conduct Saturday registrations in NCR once its ECQ ends to give more people the chance to register.
He said Comelec is unlikely to extend the voter registration beyond its deadline on September 30, 2021 since it will have to prepare for the filing of Certificate of Candidacy by October.
“This is the signal for us to start finalizing the list of voters. This is a long process and if we are unable to start is immediately, we may run out of time to complete it,” Jimenez said.
Drilon weighs in
Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon on Tuesday added his voice to calls for the Comelec to extend the period of voter registration.
Drilon made the point, echoing earlier an appeal by Sen. Risa Hontiveros, that the two-week suspension could materially limit the number of days that voters can sign up for the 2022 elections.
On Monday night, Comelec spokesman Jimenez said the en banc had not discussed the idea of extending the registration period, signaling that this was unlikely to happen.
By Tuesday, Drilon declared there is no harm in extending the registration period, suggesting that Comelec just needs to “work double time to finish all the preparations” for the 2022 elections.
At the same time, Drilon enjoined qualified voters to register in order to cast their ballots in the upcoming elections.
He reminded that those who fail to register cannot vote in the upcoming elections and would have “no reason to complain whoever is elected into office.”