Manila Bulletin : There is no better time to register to vote than now

News & Interviews
2 August 2021

By Manila Bulletin

A few months before the official filing of candidacy for the national polls in 2022, different political factions have made their presence felt. This early, some would-be candidates have already started to unfurl their tarpaulins or have their “public service messages” aired on television or YouTube. Social media, which used to be populated with cute videos of cats and dogs, have started to resemble an online battlefield, where forces from opposing political sides are engaging one another with vitriol and vile.

Amid all the noise, there still exists a sacred right given to each citizen of this country. Each person, no matter his or her educational attainment, economic status, or social background, has only one vote to cast—no more, no less. In the eyes of a vote, a billionaire capitalist is equal to a street sweeper.

The power of the ballot is now overshadowed by the noise of social media. A lot of citizens, particularly the youth, are using the online space to criticize—or praise—a certain political personality, an ideology, or a policy. It is quite worrisome that some netizens equate victory by having more “likes” and “shares.” But true victory, in reality, lies in the ballot—a vote of the majority. No matter how loud your voice on social media may be, or your followers are in the millions, the change you want to see in our politics and government would not manifest without the majority voting to retain—or oust—a candidate.

On various media and online platforms, the Commission on Elections (COMELEC) has not been remiss in reminding Filipinos to register as voters in next year’s elections. It is expecting to register four million new voters (those who will turn 18 on Election Day). Latest data showed 60 million registered voters so far with almost seven million coming from NCR. July 22, 2021 is exactly 70 days before the registration deadline on Sept. 30, 2021.

The COMELEC’s guidelines are easy to follow, whether you are a first-time voter or a returning one. Applicants just need to file their registration forms at the Office of the Election Officer (OEC) in their city or municipality where they intend to vote. As the country is still under a health pandemic, COMELEC is allowing applicants to answer the registration form online and submit the accomplished form at any of the satellite registration sites in their areas. There’s even news that some malls will provide space for registrants. The COMELEC’s website is filled with information and answers for any queries that you may have. In short, there is no excuse not to be involved in next year’s election.

For those who haven’t been active in voting in past years, this is your time to have your voice truly heard. COMELEC offices are also accepting applications for transfer and reactivation of voter records, the change of name or correction of entries on record, or reinstatement of a person’s name on the voter’s list.

There is still enough time to register to vote. Before you post your lengthy opinions on Facebook or Twitter, and before you share that political meme or TikTok video, visit the COMELEC’s website first. The act to vote is giving yourself a legitimate voice in our national discourse. And if the time comes to cast your ballot, vote like your life depends on it.