"What this Country needs is not a change OF men but a change IN men" March 1980

Wednesday, April 08, 2009

Voters urged to validate registrations, get biometrics taken before 2010

Filipino voters must be encouraged to go to the Commission on Elections (Comelec) office in their respective areas and have their biometrics taken to validate their registrations before the 2010 polls said Independent Senator Richard J. Gordon.

Gordon, author of the amended Automated Election System Law, made the call as he noted that preventing ghost and multiple voters from taking part in next year's elections will address the problem of retail cheating.

"The automation law would help eradicate wholesale cheating. While we may be modestly successful in reducing irregularities in the ARMM (Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao) elections, there is much work to do," he said.

"The existence of flying or ghost voters, or underage or other ineligible voters, has remained prevalent because of insufficient safeguards to reliably identify and separate between legitimate and illegitimate voters," he added.

To ensure that both wholesale and retail cheating will no longer mar the next elections, Gordon filed Senate Bill 3065 which seeks to amend RA 8189, the law which rendered ineffective and inoperative the certified voters list used in the 1997 barangay elections.

The law also authorized the poll body to conduct a general registration of voters, adopt a system of continuing registration and to computerize the registration process. In 2003, Comelec started to capture the biometric information of all voters under the Automated Fingerprint Identification System (AFIS).

However, a Comelec report showed that only 24 million, or half of the 48 million registered voters, are now covered by biometric listing, while its officials claimed lack of sufficient funding, among others, prevented the poll body from fully utilizing the machines.

The senator's proposed amendment seeks to require the submission by new registrants or voters previously registered under the old application procedure of their biometric information.

The bill also seeks to mandate the Comelec to use the computer-generated registration record as its official certified voters list.

It also proposed the extension of the prohibitive period for the conduct of voter registration to give the poll body sufficient time to prepare and undertake post-registration activities such as hearing by the Election Registration Board (ERBIBoard), and preparation and posting of the certified list of voters.

Gordon stressed that cleansing the voters list will contribute to clean, honest and credible elections in 2010.

"The Comelec should also intensify its efforts to purge the voters list by deleting double or multiple registrants," he said.

"All these efforts are expected to lead to credible, clean, and orderly presidential elections in 2010," he added.

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