After public and political clamor to extend the registration deadline, Comelec just announced that they will be extending the deadline for voter registration until October 30.
It goes without saying that the 2022 elections are going to be extremely consequential for the country’s future. As the deadline for voter registration for Halalan 2022 was nearing its September 30 deadline, thousands of Filipinos flocked to Comelec registration booths and offices in droves to register to vote. But with the increase in people came the snaking long lines and stories on social media of people lining up at midnight just to register for the next day. Not to mention the fact that months of time to register was taken away due to hard lockdown being implemented in the country. After public outcry and action from both the House and Senate, Comelec has finally relented, announcing that they will be extending the voter registration deadline.
THREE MORE WEEKS FOR VOTER REGISTRATION
The move was formalized in an en banc session on September 29. Instead of the initial September 30 deadline, you will now be able to register to vote from October 11 to 30, an increase of around three weeks. The reason why October 1 to 9 won’t be included though is because that is the week of the filing of certificate of candidacy for all levels of public office. Comelec said that they would be too busy dealing with that to accommodate voter registration.
THE PUSH TO EXTEND THE DEADLINE
For months, Comelec has been adamant that they would not extend the deadline past September 30, citing operational concerns since what they do moving forward will be dependent on how many people are registered to vote. They did initially offer just a one-week extension. However, the public and elected officials did not buy that excuse. Advocacy groups have repeatedly called for an extension. Stories of people waiting for hours just to register to vote and even being turned away are aplenty on social media. The House and the Senate even approved and fast-tracked bills that would extend the voter registration period until October 31.
MILLIONS LEFT TO REGISTER
It’s important to note that around 10 million eligible Filipinos have yet to register to vote. And as we’ve seen in the news and online in the past weeks, many are motivated to register. So, this three-week extension is much welcome news. But at the same time, this still may not prevent people from lining up at 2 AM just to register to vote given how no major changes have been implemented to a system that isn’t the most accommodating. Now that people have more time to register, maybe Comelec should contemplate making the system easier for them instead of having people go through hurdles just to vote.
If you haven’t registered to vote, you now have more time to do so. Here is a guide on the malls that have voter registration booths and you can also check out this website for an explainer on what you need to prepare to register to vote. You can also read up on what it’s like to register for the first time during the pandemic from a first-person perspective.