Monday, December 21, 2009

Voters may reach 50-million mark

December 21, 2009, 1:51pm

Original Story:

Fully armed with Data Capturing Machines to record the biometrics of registrants, the Commission on Elections (Comelec) is expecting the total number of voters for the May 10, 2010 polls to easily pass the 50-million mark even as it is assuring the nation that all offices of its election officers (EOs) in 120 cities and 1,514 municipalities are ready for the heavy influx of those who will list up starting December 21, as well as on December 22, 23, 28, and 29 pursuant to the December 15, 2009 decision of the Supreme Court extending the voter's registration period to January 9, 2010.

The Comelec, led by Chairman Jose A.R. Melo, said that with the prospects of a heavy turnout of registrants in the next five days, the 50-million mark can be easily surpassed, stressing that latest updates showed that the total number of registered voters for next year’s major political exercise already reached a total of 49,225,089.

The latest figures of registered voters in the Comelec is well above the 45.02 million listed in the May 14, 2007 elections, it was pointed out.

In the May 11, 2004 elections, there were only 43.5 million voters that voted in the presidential, congressional, local and party-list polls.

Melo, who presided the Comelec en banc meeting of December 17 that approved Resolution No. 8719 containing the guidelines for extended registration of new voters, said that to keep the preparations for the country’s first automated elections on target, the Information Technology Department (ITD) has been directed to develop the appropriate program to segregate the records of registered voters as of the November 16, 2009 hearing of the Election Registration Board from those whose applications will be approved on January 9, 2010.

The Comelec also directed its ITD to provide all election officers with the instructions for the generation of a separate Supplemental List of Voters in Posted Computerized Voters List format.

Melo appealed to new voters to register as early as possible and not to wait for the last day to file their applications for registration to avoid confusion and inconvenience.

The registration period will definitely not be extended anymore as the 120 prohibited period of registration before a regular election will take effect on January 10, 2010, it was added.

Meanwhile, Comelec spokesperson Director James Jimenez ion Sunday advised registrants, saying that “in registering during the five-day period, expect na po natin na maraming tao diyan kaya makakabuti po if magdadala po tayo ng konting lamig ng ulo.”

Earlier, the Comelec set the deadline for the registration period up to October 31 only to prepare for the poll automation. But a petition filed by Kabataan Party-list seeking to nullify the Comelec ruling was granted by the Supreme Court last week.

Over the weekend, the Comelec en banc said the actual application of registration is only from December 21 to 23, and 28 to 29.

The poll body said the remaining days for registration would be allotted for the ‘administrative part’ including posting of the notice of hearing on January 4, filing of opposition on January 6, and hearing of applications on January 9.

Jimenez said last Oct. 31, the original final day for registration, there were long queues of people wanting to exercise their right of suffrage next year, with some of them hurling bad words against Comelec officers. (With a report by Jenny Manongdo)

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