Saturday, December 19, 2009

Additional voters for 2010 to be like 'chance passengers'

12/20/2009 | 12:53 AM

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Like chance passengers in a fully booked flight, additional registrants for the 2010 polls could only vote if there would be extra ballots. The Commission on Elections (Comelec) will no longer print additional ballots for voters who will register starting December 21.

“We won’t be printing any additional ballots. They will be like chance passengers," Comelec spokesperson James Jimenez said on Saturday, reiterating an earlier statement made by Jose Melo, the chief of the poll body.

Aside from the ballots that are scheduled to be printed on January 28 based on the number of voters that had registered prior to the ruling of the Supreme Court, the poll body would no longer produce extra ballots, according to Jimenez.

There are over 49 million registered voters as of December 10. The ratio of ballot to voter was supposed to be one is to one.

“We can’t print anymore (ballots), we cannot delay it (poll preparations) anymore," Jimenez told GMANews.TV in a phone interview.

He said additional voters could still vote if there would be “spare" ballots on election day. Jimenez said that “usually there’s low voter turnout" during the polls, thus there could still be extra ballots for additional registrants.

Last December 15, the Supreme Court extended the voter registration for the 2010 elections to January 9 after it nullified a Comelec resolution that limited the said registration to October 31, 2009.

In its nine-page decision, the high tribunal directed the Comelec to immediately reopen the registration as a reply to the petition of Kabataan party-list Rep. Raymond Palatino, who questioned the shortened period for registration.

Last week, in an interview with Mike Enriquez, Melo also said that additional registrants would be like “chance passengers."

“Halimbawa, ang registered sa inyong presinto, 200, eh magpi-print po kami ng 200 ballots for that number. Ngayon, hindi naman siguro pwedeng 100 percent ang turnout, baka magboto riyan mga 110 to 150, whatever. So, limit na number of ballots, yung mga nagpa-register ngayon, makahabol din. Dun sa number of ballots we will print, di na ho sila kasali do’n...," said Melo.

(For instance, if the number of registered voters in your precinct is 200, we will print 200. But the voter-turnout can’t be always 100 percent, it could be 110 to 150, whatever. So those who will register could still have the chance to vote. But they will no longer be included in the number of ballots that we will print.)

Asked by Enriquez if the situation could be compared to that of people taking chances to ride on an already passenger-loaded bus or board an already fully booked plane, Melo agreed, saying they could be compared to “chance passengers."

Asked if the poll body would be prepared for criticisms on its decision not to print additional ballots for new voters, Jimenez said that the Comelec could no longer do anything about it because “this is what was already decided."

The tentative schedule for the continuation of registration has been set on December 21 to 23 and on 28 to 29. Meanwhile, January 2 to 9 will be allotted for “administrative matters."

Comelec Law Department head Ferdinand Rafanan said the poll body would post the list of the new applicants on January 4, giving the registrants until January 6 to file an opposition to any of the other registrations.

By January 9, the Election Registration Board is expected to begin its hearings to weed out ineligible registrants, according to Rafanan. - GMANews.TV

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