Business Mirror : With voter registration extended, Comelec ‘elbow room’ for 2022 poll preparations all but lost

4 October 2021

By SAMUEL P. MEDENILLA | Business Mirror

FOLLOWING the month-long extension of voter registration, the Commission on Elections on Monday said it has almost lost its “elbow room” in its 2022 polls preparations.

Comelec Commissioner Antonio Kho Jr. said they could no longer afford any delays since they extended the deadline for voter registration from Sept. 30 to Oct. 30, 2021.

The Comelec’s move to extend the registration, however, came as Congress was already sending a bill to Malacanang Palace for signing into law, in lawmakers’ bid to force to poll body to extend the period.

That bill became Republic Act 11591 as it was signed into law by President Duterte last Thursday, extending voter registration by another 30 days. RA 11591 takes effect immediately after its publication in a national newspaper. Since it was published Oct. 2, the reckoning of the 30-day extension starts that day – leaving only a few days’ difference between the Comelec-set new closing date for registration and the one mandated by the new law.

At Monday’s briefing, Commissioner Kho told reporters, “As I said earlier, because of the extension of the registration, our elbow room for the preparation for the 2022 elections is really very tight.”

With this, even minor delays due to unforeseen events such as infections in the area, where ballots will be printed, or delivery of election paraphernalia due to inclement weather, could prove too costly for their preparations, he explained.

“The reason we originally scheduled it at the end of September is to give us elbow room later on so that in case these situations develop we will immediately be able to respond,” Kho said.

Nevertheless, the poll official remained hopeful Comelec can successfully and safely hold the 2022 elections.

Comelec earlier said it approved the extension amid public clamor for a longer voter registration period to offset the long period of its suspension due to lockdowns in previous months.

The poll body initially thumbed down the extension, citing the possible delay it will cause to the poll body’s preparation for 2022 polls, particularly for the printing of ballots.