Online registration of voters, filing of candidacy pushed

June 19, 2021 Ryan Ponce Pacpaco 699 views

DEPUTY Speaker and Cagayan de Oro City Rep. Rufus Rodriguez on Saturday pushed for the online registration of qualified voters by the Commission on Elections (Comelec) for next year’s presidential vote.

At the same time, Rodriguez is advocating online filing by candidates of their certificates of candidacy in October, 2021.

“Let us allow the youth who are already 18 years old or will be 18 years old on election day May 9, 2022 to register online and also those voters who were delisted for failure to vote in 2 successive elections to reactivate their status as voters also online. They cannot personally go to the offices of the Comelec because of the risk of getting infected by the highly contagious new coronavirus,” Rodriguez said.

For the same reason, candidates should be permitted to file their candidacy certificates via the internet, he said.

“In most if not all provinces, cities and towns, Comelec offices are too small to accommodate many candidates and their supporters. It would be impossible for them to observe physical distancing in these workplaces,” he said.

Rodriguez pointed out that the new voters should be allowed to register online because of the proximity of the Sept 30, 2021 deadline and supporting data such as biometrics could be obtained thru their personal appearance later, sometime in April, 2022. Otherwise these young voters will be disenfranchised.

“We could ask them to come personally for their biometric data later when the health situation improves, when most of our people have been vaccinated or when the government has achieved herd immunity which it projects to be achieved in the 1st Quarter of 2022, so there would be less risk of getting the virus,” he added.

In a House hearing on Thursday, Comelec officials informed congressmen that they are still deciding on online registration and online filing of certificates of candidacy, for which they claimed they have no funds.

They also said the law requires personal appearance before Comelec offices.

Rodriguez, a former law dean, agreed that there is such a requirement.

“But the Comelec has to do these online now because of the pandemic. The law and regulations have to adapt to the present emergency situation. Let us do online registration and online filing of certificates. Let us see who will question it. I am sure the courts are aware of the situation because they are also adjusting to it,” he said.

As for the lack of funds, he said the Comelec could use its savings.

He said that while he is filing a bill allowing said online voter listing and filing of certificates of candidacy, the Comelec has the power under the Constitution to implement them online in view of the current public health emergency.