By Melissa Luz Lopez | CNN Philippines
Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, August 27) – Despite limited movement due to the COVID-19 crisis, the Commission on Elections said it expects thousands of deadline beaters to sign up during the final month of voter registration.
In a House of Representatives inquiry on Friday, Commissioner Marlon Casquejo said total registered voters may reach 62 million by September 30, from the latest tally of 61.08 million as of Friday. A total of 70 million Filipinos are eligible to vote on May 9, when they will be aged 18 and older.
Lawmakers, however, said leaving about 9 million adults unregistered would leave them unable to exercise their right to vote as the September 30 registration deadline is approaching.
"We have to be realistic. In a span of how many days, that will be impossible for us to cater those 9 million given the condition, limitation or restrictions due the MECQ and ECQ classifications in the NCR as well as in the other provinces," Casquejo told reporters.
Also on Friday, Comelec signed a deal to use 81 SM Malls as satellite registration centers, similar to deals with Robinsons and Ayala Malls. However, these malls can only cater to voters who reside in the surrounding voting districts or city.
Kabataan Party-List Rep. Sarah Elago renewed calls to extend the deadline to make up for lost time. Meanwhile, Cagayan de Oro Rep. Rufus Rodriguez asked Comelec to accept online sign-ups for new voters and collect fingerprint, signature, and face scans even beyond the deadline.
"In schools now it's already online registration to enroll, everything is already online and yet Comelec still has the position that this will violate the law. It will not," Rodriguez said. "By not having this online registration, we will be disenfranchising a lot of young voters who are really afraid to go out."
Comelec says it will study the proposal but will not push back the September 30 deadline.
So far, the poll body has been accepting online submissions from delisted voters to reactivate their records so they can vote again next year.