The number of people rushing to register to vote has been wild in the past few days and I honestly don’t know if it’s a good thing or a bad thing.
The best thing about this phenomenon is that more voters is always better for a democracy. When more eligible citizens cast their ballot, election results become better representations of the people’s true will. It doesn’t matter if the people’s will is a stupid choice, resulted from bought votes, or is the right choice that results in progress and development. Living in a democracy like the Philippines means we always get the government we deserve and the acceptance of our fate always becomes much easier when a bigger percentage of the population participated in the electoral process, regardless of the results.
Let us not question the motives of those now reportedly joining pre-dawn queues just to register at the Comelec. Of course the idealists in us would like to think that more Filipinos want to vote because they want to take a more active part in determining the nation’s fate. Maybe they are frustrated with the way things have been run and want to effect change. Maybe they were inspired by social media and propaganda and want to do their share to keep the same gang in power. Perhaps someone offered them incentives to register as voters or transfer their votes to greener pastures.
If you come to think of it, whatever their motives are, it doesn’t matter yet because while they are registering to vote, they are not yet voters until they show up on election day and cast their ballots. What is important now is that based on the number of people showing interest in the location of the local Comelec office and voter registration centers, we can hope to get a better representation of the will of the people come May 2022.
The other funny thing about the rush to register as voters is the classic Filipino trait of waiting until the last minute to do something. Although it is possible that the pandemic delayed plans to register, it is also likely that most are just cramming because the deadline is coming up. What is encouraging is the effort those people are showing just so they can vote.
To be honest, I don’t think I would line up starting 4am while a Delta variant powered surge is raging just to register to be a voter. But if I also come to think of it, given my extreme frustration at the way our government is currently run, I might just endure the risks and inconvenience so I can earn the right to vote for change.
I don’t see how politicos would find any value in paying people to register since there is no guarantee that a registered voter will actually vote. The only reason politicians would invest in voter registration is they are getting sure voters to either register or transfer. Whoever is investing that much in down payments for potential vote buying must have a lot to cash to burn which means a bigger investment to be recouped if ever they do win. But what do I know about the economics of elections? I’m just a clueless observer.
For now, we should just assume the best intentions and see the people lining up to register as voters as doing it because they want their voices to be heard and simply need to beat the deadline. They’ve been cooped up in their homes for 500++ days and needed a challenge. They’re frustrated with government and the voters that put those “leaders” there and they want to take a shot at that thing called democracy that they missed out on. Heck, if rumors are right about how elections are run in this country, they might even make some money.
Aside from the potential violations in health and safety regulations, there is absolutely no reason to see anything wrong with the rush toward voter registration centers as the deadline looms. As of this time, nobody knows who they will vote for or if they will even vote. What is important is when Election Day comes, they are eligible to vote.
Whether the newly registered voters perform their civic duty wisely or not is an entirely different issue and that is something the politicos have been working on, until the campaign period ends. Those of us who have our preferences should also start working on convincing those within our spheres of influence what exactly wise voting means.
If the last 6 years hasn’t taught us anything about the consequences of our votes, then we should prepare ourselves for more of the same brand of leaders. Hopefully the newly registered voters know better and their numbers are enough to change our nation’s fate.*