Comelec eyes ‘mall voting’ after registration effort

Delon Porcalla - The Philippine Star
Comelec eyes �mall voting� after registration effort
Qualified individuals register at the Comelec’s special voters registration satellite for the vulnerable sector at a mall in Baguio City on January 24, 2023.
STAR / Andy Zapata Jr.

MANILA, Philippines — The Commission on Elections (Comelec) is contemplating on allowing the country’s 65 million voters to cast their votes in every election – either presidential, mid-term or senatorial polls – inside air-conditioned malls.

“Soon, we might have what we will call as ‘Mall Voting’ so that voters will no longer queue up for long, long lines under the scorching heat of the sun, and our schools will be spared of such (electoral) activity,” Comelec chairman George Erwin Garcia disclosed yesterday.

The poll chief made the disclosure as the Comelec signed a memorandum of understanding with the House of Representatives about its successful “Register Anywhere Project” where voters can choose to register where they want to vote, without going to the provinces.

Speaker Martin Romualdez signed the MOU with Garcia at the Batasang Pambansa complex.

“We assure you that all personal data will be protected, from the House to the Comelec, to the province or the municipality where you intend to cast your vote. We will always guarantee that your names will always be posted,” Garcia said.

At the same time, the Comelec chief announced that their offices nationwide are always “open” for those who want to register, from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., Mondays to Saturdays.

“Yes, you have all the right to vote, but you also have the responsibility to register,” he said.

Romualdez, who represents the first district of Leyte province, commended Comelec under Garcia’s leadership for its “innovation, creativity and service to the Filipino people.”

“This is a very, very credible initiative. It brings to fore that the right of suffrage is exercised,” he said.

“Our involvement in this laudable project is our modest contribution to the efforts of the Comelec to register as many voters as possible,” the Speaker added.

“We encourage our House members, personnel and their dependents and relatives, as well as those of attached agencies and our people in general to take advantage of this offsite or satellite listing project so they could exercise their right of suffrage in future elections.”

Target met

The Comelec has already met its projected 1.5 million registrants for the barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan (SK) elections in October this year, as it renewed its call for the public to avoid the rush, at least six days before the Jan. 31 deadline.

A report forwarded to reporters by Chairman Garcia showed that the poll body has reached 1,537,872 applications for voter registration filed in all of their registration sites as of Sunday.

Of the figure, there were 1,530,317 applications filed in regular voter registration sites in all cities and municipalities in the country and 7,555 applications filed in select Register Anywhere Project booths nationwide.

The number of new registrants include 442,330 voters aged 15 to 17; 397,323 aged 18 to 30 and 86,818 aged 31 years old and above.

Comelec spokesman Rex Laudiangco told “The Chiefs” on Monday that the youth, especially first time voters for the SK elections, are more zealous than regular voters, as he emphasized that they are excited to cast their votes for the first time.

“The youth are keener to register for the SK. They are excited,” Laudiangco said in Filipino.

After reaching the 1.5 million target, Laudiangco told “The Chiefs” that they would need an additional budget higher than the P2.5 to P2.7 billion allotted for the October election, since they would need to pay for additional teachers and other expenses that will be incurred with the additional registrants.

Laudiangco said that Congress has allotted an P8.4-billion budget supposedly for the Dec. 5, 2022 barangay and SK elections and had allotted around P2.5- to P2.7-billion budget when it was moved to October this year.

But he said that they do not see any problem with asking for additional funding as he emphasized that Republic Act 11935 clearly stipulated that the funds that will be used in this year’s election will be sourced either from the general appropriations or additional or supplemental funds.

With the current budget, Laudiangco said that teachers should not expect an increase of honoraria, but said that they would find ways to ensure that teachers will be compensated well. – Robertzon Ramirez

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