QUEZON CITY – Despite the unanimous decision of the Commission on Elections (COMELEC) to not extend the voter registration period, more than 2,500 groups continue to call to move the September 30 deadline to prevent the disenfranchisement of more than 13.3 million eligible voters.
In a unity statement released by pro-democracy coalition PARTICIPATE on Thursday, more than 2,500 members of civic, academic, youth, women, religious, and other sectoral groups expressed their support for the call to give every Filipino a chance to exercise their democratic right and ramp up the voter registration initiatives.
Citing data from the Philippine Statistics Authority, the groups pointed out that while 73.3 million Filipinos are eligible to vote by 2022, only 60 million are registered to vote as of now. “This means, more than 13.3 million Filipinos are not yet registered,” the groups said.
“Given the multiple hard lockdowns in various parts of the country and the closure of satellite voter registration sites due to the Delta variant of the coronavirus pandemic, concluding voter’s registration too early may risk disenfranchising the 13.3 million unregistered potential voters,” they appealed.
The groups also added that “this number is enough to change the outcome of the upcoming 2022 national and local elections.”
Increase satellite voter registration sites, more inclusive registration process
While welcoming the initiatives of COMELEC to do online reactivation for persons with disabilities (PWDs) and senior citizens, and to extend voter registration hours, the groups also appealed to strengthen the voter registration efforts such as “increasing the number of satellite voter registration sites by partnering with local universities and colleges; exploring ways to accommodate first-time voters especially non-working and out-of-school youth; and adopting a multi-stakeholder approach in developing and implementing voter registration campaigns.”
“In a time where democratic spaces are being challenged, now more than ever, it is important to value and ensure that we have exhausted all means to provide every eligible Filipino voter a chance for their voice to be heard,” the groups emphasized.
PARTICIPATE is a non-partisan, pro-democracy coalition dedicated to engage and empower the political participation of the Filipino people. It aims to strengthen citizen oversight of electoral processes, increase the availability and accessibility of information to promote informed voting, and support constituency-building for electoral reforms.