Commission on Elections Commissioner Rowena Guanzon has proposed to the poll body to consider a partnership with the Department of Foreign Affairs for the adoption of a voter registration system that would not require a personal appearance.
“Comelec is studying a project that I proposed: no personal appearance for voter registrants with passports, (only) online,” Guanzon posted on Twitter over the weekend. “If partnership with DFA is possible, verification of identity can be done using biometrics data of DFA.”
She said more Filipinos here and abroad, as long as they have valid passports, may be encouraged to become registered voters if such a system is adopted. Such a “no appearance” registration system will also address concerns over the coronavirus disease 2019 pandemic.
Guanzon said the implementation of the proposed system does not require a law since means and methods of elections are the sole discretion of the Comelec. If DFA will agree to work with the poll body, they will try to implement the new system in the ongoing voter registration for the May 2022 national and local elections that is ongoing until September 30, 2021.
Voters are the foundation of any strong democracy. However, they have to be registered before they can vote so voter registration should be given at least the same attention as elections by the government and the Comelec. As long as the elections are fair and honest, the ballot provides the clearest reflection of the will and the power of the people.
A “no appearance” voter registration system will allow more Filipinos access to the ballot, especially during these difficult times when people are not yet comfortable leaving the safety of their homes.
Hopefully, the Comelec and the DFA can work together to come up with a system that can make voter registration accessible so more Filipinos can exercise their right to choose the nation’s next crop of leaders come 2022.*