NOTE: THIS STORY WAS FIRST PUBLISHED IN THE BOHOL CHRONICLE’S SUNDAY PRINT EDITION.
While the Commission on Elections (COMELEC) in Bohol has noticed an unusual turn-out in their voters’ registration this year, something the local authorities ascribe to the effects of the quarantine.
According to Bohol Election Supervisor Atty. Eliseo Labaria, in the last elections, there were 898,682 registered voters.
However, even when the COMELEC has delisted about 80,000 voters for some reasons like failure to vote in the last two elections and death and transfer of address, or no record, as of last the hearing for inclusion of registered voters in the new list, so much more have been added.
“We have tracked almost 100,000 new registered or reactivated voters added to the list since we reopened the registration,” Atty Labaria shared at the Kapihan sa PIA, last September 2, 2021.
The 100,000 added to the list are new voters from the Sangguniang Kabataan or the youth sector, and those who have reactivated.
We see the quarantine as a contributing factor, says Atty Labaria.
“Those who went home due to the pandemic, unfortunately, could not go back to their places of origin where they have been previously registered as voters, so they have opted to transfer,” the lawyer election supervisor explained.
The figure, in fact, is still growing with registrations ongoing every office hours from Monday to Saturday including holidays.
With the filing of Certificates of Candidacy looming, Bohol Election Supervisor Atty. Eliseo Labaria issues the final call for persons eligible to vote and be heard to register, while the office is still open until the last day of September.
Speaking at the Kapihan sa PIA on September 2, Atty Labaria added that they have continued with the registration after the declaration of general quarantine have disrupted the COMELEC activity.
The COMELEC is mandated to keep the list of voters in the country clean as a foundation of credible elections by a system of checks and crosschecks, he said.
Now, we have the Automated Facial recognition Identification System (AFIS) which can immediately notify us of any double or multiple registrations by a single name, so it is easier to trim down the list, he added.
After the registration this month, the COMELEC would convene its Election Registration Board for the eventual hearing before the final list of voters come out for publication.
During the hearing, the COMELEC also receives protests and hears them out, weighing on the merit and available documents.
He said that for every registration application, the COMELEC would act on the presumption of regularity of the registration until there is a protest or any information contradicting the claim of the registrant.
And from there, the Comelec can sue the registrant for perjury if found to have falsified the public record just to be registered. (rahc/PIA-7/Bohol)