Manila Bulletin – Villanueva pushes for online registration of voters

By Vanne Elaine Terrazola | Manila Bulletin

Senator Joel Villanueva is pushing to allow the online registration of voters by the Commission on Elections (Comelec) to cope with the COVID-19 pandemic.

“As part of our adjustment to the times, the Comelec should be given an option to conduct the voter registration through electronic means. Not only does it make it more convenient for people to register, it will also help improve the data-keeping efforts of the commission,” he said on Monday, June 1.

He recently filed Senate Bill No. 1516, which will authorize the poll body to develop an automated, online system for voter registration. The Senate Committee on Electoral Reforms is set to start discussions on this.

Villanueva said the proposal, while minimizing the risk of spreading the disease, will also help increase voter participation in elections.

“Because there is nothing healthier for a democratic state than to have citizens who are informed, actively participating in its democratic processes, and truly engaged in charting the course of its destiny,” he explained.

Under SB 1516, the Comelec should, “as far as practicable, adopt, design, and use an automated and online system for voter registration that enables the electronic and online filing and processing of the application for voter registration, transfer of registration, reactivation, correction of voter registration entries, and such other requests and processes relative to the voter’s registration and records.”

The system shall include a feature that will automatically inform the applicant of the successful submission of his or her application or request, among others.

But if the the automated, online voter registration system cannot be immediately implemented, the bill allows the adoption of an online application verification system where prospective voters will submit their requirements online.

After reviewing, the Comelec could either prompt the prospective voter to submit additional requirements or issue other steps necessary for the completion of the application.

Security measures shall be put in place to protect and guarantee the completeness, accuracy, and integrity of voter registration forms, applications, and information submitted and filed through the online platform.

Villanueva said the measure serves as an alternative procedure to personal filings while the threat of COVID-19 remains.

“We must adjust to the times that we have. Creating an online platform will help lighten the burden of Comelec to process applications manually, and our people can be a registered voter right in the comfort and safety of our homes,” he said.

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