By Melissa Luz Lopez | CNN Philippines
Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, August 16) — The Commission on Elections has registered 5.77 million new voters weeks ahead of the Sept. 30 registration deadline, Commissioner Rowena Guanzon said, pushing the total number of voters close to its target.
In a forum organized by the Catholic Educational Association of the Philippines, Guanzon revealed that there are now “over 60 million” registered voters, with a goal of breaching the 61-million mark for the May 9, 2022 polls.
On Monday, Makabayan bloc lawmakers filed House Resolution 2128 calling on the Comelec to extend the voter registration deadline by a month to Oct. 31 or later to “deter massive voter disenfranchisement” amid the pandemic. Senators and civic groups have made similar appeals in the past weeks.
The poll body has not yet responded to the pleas, but Guanzon acknowledged that it has become harder for people to show up at Comelec district offices due to COVID-19 restrictions.
“With the pandemic and the ECQ in NCR and Iloilo, it is getting harder for our people –– especially the older people and those with disabilities –– to go out and register… We have provided for Saturday registration, specifically for students or those who are working, and we hope you young people can take advantage of this with the support of your colleges,” she told an audience of students and school administrators.
Guanzon said Monday that there are 6.3 million disenfranchised voters, or those who did not cast their ballot in the last two consecutive elections, who are in danger of losing their opportunity to vote unless they reactivate their status before the poll body. She noted that online reactivations using video calls to verify a voter’s identity will be offered soon, with senior citizens and persons with disabilities the priority.
“We assure the public that the Commission is quite capable of doing this job of administering elections during a pandemic,” she added.
The Comelec also announced it has started accepting applications from political parties, civic groups, and IT experts to participate in reviewing the source code that will be used for the automated election system next year.