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In case you’ve forgotten, voter registration resumes today, August 1, 2012. Offices of the Commission on Elections (Comelec) nationwide—with the exception of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao—will be accepting applications for registration, transfer of registration, change of name and re-activation, from Monday to Saturday, from 8 in the morning until 5 in the afternoon. Requests for validation will also be entertained.
However, please note also that registration schedules may change depending on whether the local Comelec office you’re going to has a scheduled satellite registration. In that case, the Comelec office will not be able to entertain registrants.
Please keep in mind that while only a valid identification card is needed, the election officer may also require the presentation of a birth certificate, in case the applicant’s declared age is doubtful; or proof of billing, in case the declared residential address is questionable.
Again, in case it’s slipped your mind, voter registration ends on October 31, 2012. This means that there are only three months left. This means that we can expect long lines at the registration centers to get longer, and short tempers getting even shorter. Under these circumstances, gentle reminders to both applicants for registration and Comelec officials would not be out of place.
So, to the registering public, please try to understand that long queues are inevitable, and raised voices do not help. Verbal abuse directed at Comelec officials and staff won’t win any brownie points either. While I am all for the idea that the front line of Comelec should be service-oriented, and I completely agree with the axiom that Comelec staff are public servants, I nonetheless believe that no one should be treated poorly, or spoken to in a manner that is degrading.
To Comelec, it won’t be productive to get into arguments with applicants for registration. The best thing to do is to make sure that registration procedures—including information about how many people can be registered in a single day, priority-number strategies and scheduled break times—are clear, adequately communicated to the waiting public and equally applied to all. There is nothing more annoying—or, in fact, more wrong—than waiting patiently in queue and then seeing some fortunate people being allowed to cut into the line.
Having said all that, I often get asked what an ordinary citizen can do to help with the registration of voters. Here are five very easy things anyone can do:
First, provide the election officer of your city or municipality with information about registered voters you know to be deceased. While there is a certain level of coordination between Comelec and the local civil registry, it will still be very helpful if citizens can come forward with this kind of information.
Second, tell your barangay officials that you want to have satellite registration in your area. They can then forward the request to the local Comelec office. Satellite registrations are very helpful, especially for people in your neighborhood who would otherwise not find it very easy to go all the way to local Comelec office—which, by the way, is normally located in the vicinity of the city or municipal hall.
Third, you can round up volunteer-minded individuals—like yourself, I hope—and get a car pool going for persons with disabilities (PWDs) in your area. At the registration center, PWDs are prioritized, along with the elderly, but often, the bigger challenge for these individuals is how to get to the registration center in the first place.
Fourth, simply spread the word. Despite generally high levels of awareness, many people still need reminding that voter registration is the all-important first step to meaningful political participation. In particular, the youth need to be encouraged to vote, and those who have missed two consecutive general elections, i.e., the May 10, 2010, national elections and the 2010 barangay elections, have to be reminded that they probably need to reactivate their deactivated registration.
And fifth, complaints, incident reports and observations can be tweeted, using the hashtag #PHVoterReg. Comelec, through its Education and Information Department, will be monitoring tweets via its Twitter account @COMELECTV.
James Jimenez blogs at https://james-jimenez.com and tweets as @jab-jimenez on Twitter.