Manila Bulletin - Online registration of voters pushed

27 July 2020

By Charissa Luci-Atienza | Manila Bulletin

As the 2022 presidential and vice presidential elections near, leaders of the House of Representatives have sought the government’s adoption of an online system for voter’s registration.

Senior Citizens partylist Rep. Francisco Datol Jr., chairman of the House Special Committee on Senior Citizens, and House Majority Leader Leyte Rep. Martin Romualdez said the Commission on Elections (Comelec) should make the electoral system “resilient” amid the threats posed by COVID-19.

“With no immediate end for the COVID-19 pandemic in sight, it is believed that rather than wait for the pandemic to end, the Comelec should be pro-active and adopt innovative measures, such as online voter’s registration, to facilitate voter’s registration during the COVID-19 pandemic and for it continually fulfill its mandate of protecting the Filipino’s right of suffrage,” they said.

They filed House Bill No. 7063 seeking to amend the Republic Act No. 8184 or the Voter’s Registration Act of 1996 to ensure an “enabling environment” for people to register as voters amid the pandemic crisis.

“By adopting a system for online voter’s registration, we do not just make our electoral system more resilient to unexpected calamities such as the COVID-19 pandemic but also create a system that provides the Filipino electorate and our government an efficient, convenient, and cost-effective mechanism for voter’s registration in the long term,” the lawmakers said.

Under HB 7063, the personal or electronic filing of application of registration of voters shall be conducted daily in the office of the Election Officer during regular office hours or through the official website for such purpose as designated by the Commission.

The measure provides that to register as a voter, he or she shall personally or electronically accomplish an application form for registration as prescribed by the Commission in three copies before the Election Officer on any date during office hours or through the official website for such purpose as designated by the Commission after having acquired the qualifications of a voter.

“The application for registration shall contain three specimen signatures of the applicant, clear and legible rolled prints of his left and right thumbprints, with four identification size copies of his latest photograph, submitted personally or through electronic means, attached thereto, to be taken at the expense of the Commission,” the bill said.

The measure provides that in case of online submission of a completed voter’s registration by an individual, the Commission shall send the individual a notice confirming the Commission’s receipt of the application and providing instructions on how the individual may check the status of the application.

“Furthermore, the Commission shall employ security measures which are necessary to ensure the accuracy and integrity of electronically submitted voter registration applications,” it added.

HB 7063 provides that within 30 days from the effectivity of this Act, the Commission on Elections, in consultation with Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT), Department of Science and Technology (DoST), Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG), National Commission for Senior Citizens, and other stakeholders, is tasked to promulgate the implementing rules and regulations of the proposed Act.