Saying voters are the ultimate arbiters on how the country should be run, a first-term legislator on Monday urged non-registered eligible voters to register in time for the 2022 elections.
Rizal Rep. Fidel Nograles noted the low turnout in the registration of new voters as he also called on the deactivated voters to apply for reactivation.
The Comelec says only 1.17 million new voters have registered so far out of an estimated four million citizens who had reached the age of 18 since the last polls. It says it has also deactivated the registration of seven million voters who had failed to vote in two consecutive elections.
“Let us not wait for the deadline before registering or applying for the reactivation of voter status. Voting is the sacred duty of every citizen that should not be set aside,” Nograles said.
Deactivated voters may still apply for reactivation to participate in the May 2022 national and local elections, and need not apply again.
Elections Commissioner Rowena Guanzon has discounted the possibility of extending the registration beyond the September 2021 deadline as the commission is operating on a very tight schedule to fulfill the other requirements in the run-up to the 2022 elections.
Nograles appealed to the youth particularly to register to vote.
“Elections are an opportunity to implement change,” and the “youth should not pass up the chance to elect those they think should lead.”
“Many of us are quick to use social media to call for changes. The changes we demand are in our hands and these start at the moment we elect the people who will manage the affairs of government. This will not be possible if we do not register,” Nograles said.
He also expressed his support for adjustments that Guanzon said the election body would consider to make registration more convenient.
Guanzon said she had proposed that the registration hours be extended beyond 3 p.m..
The Comelec is also working to establish a priority lane for medical frontliners including ambulance drivers, security guards and city health officials, among others, as well as barangay registration satellites.
Nograles says the barangay registration satellites could be a good solution for people who are still averse to going out, especially as public transportation still remains an issue.
He said, though, that these satellites should be complemented with information dissemination campaigns that target those in the countryside or who have limited access to the internet.
He also proposed that the Comelec study the possibility of entering into strategic partnerships with local governments and the private sector to provide transportation for people who wish to register.
“Maybe we could do some form of bloc registration para we are assured of large batches especially from geographically isolated and disadvantaged areas,” Nograles said.