I registered to vote pre-pandemic, here’s why you should register today
(Once suspension has been lifted)
posted August 05, 2021 at 09:40 pm
By Theriz Lizel R. Silvano
The short answer: it is relatively easier to register in 2020 than in 2018.
For the long, detailed answer, read on.
I was one of the more than 2.5 million new voters who registered to vote for the 2019 midterm elections. Before going to the registration site, I already had a vision of how the process would be: time-consuming and quite tiring. I readied myself for the inconvenience and discomfort because of the humid weather and congested atmosphere.
While I couldn’t imagine how the same process would be during a pandemic, I assumed lines would be longer since registrants need to observe physical distancing.
But I was wrong.
Irene Clamor, a 21-year-old student from the Polytechnic University of the Philippines, is a newly registered voter for the 2022 elections. She registered to vote during the pandemic, in October 2020. Her registration experience was easier than mine, despite her registering amid the threat of coronavirus disease (COVID-19).
Faster registration process
When I registered to vote at the Comelec (Commission on Elections) Antipolo office, it took me almost two hours queuing just to have my biometrics taken. The lines were long and crowded with registrants and companions of senior citizens and PWDs (persons with disabilities).
However, according to Irene, when she and her friend went to the Manila City Hall early in the morning with their documents and forms, the whole registration process took only an hour – half of the time I spent standing in line for just one step of the process.
“It was easy kasi nauna kami sa pila kaya hindi masyadong mahirap and matagal yung pag-aantay namin. Hindi rin kami nagka-problema kasi we brought and presented all of the required documents. Smooth lang yung flow,” the first-time voter told Manila Standard.
Irene, however, added that there was a rain the morning they went to the site which she said could be a factor why there was less crowd.
All hands on deck, more sites available
In my registration experience, desk persons were coming in and out of the registration area, grabbing their snacks from shops near the office, which stretched the process even longer. I also remember that many registrants did not accomplish their forms in advance, which was why it took them longer at the site.
But according to Irene, the desk persons were all present and available during her registration. She said the process only took longer if the registrant before you had problems with their documents.
Comelec has partnered with Robinsons Malls to make the registration process easier during the pandemic by mounting satellite registration booths in select Robinsons malls nationwide.
The poll body also posts updates on its Facebook page on the schedule of voter registration as well as the schedule of their disinfection activities to protect registrants from COVID-19.
However, with another lockdown in Metro Manila from August 6 to 20, Comelec has temporarily suspended voter registration in the region. The last day of registration is on September 30.
Take extra precaution
The biggest difference between my experience and Irene’s is that it was less complicated to move from one place to another then since you didn’t have to wear protective equipment. There was also less concern about cleanliness and touching surfaces and objects used by other people.
If you’re registering to vote during this period, you must obey physical distancing protocols, wear protective face masks and shields, and stay away from overcrowded spaces. Carry hand sanitizers or alcohol, as well as tissue and/or cleaning wipes.
Why should you register to vote when there’s a threat of a virulent disease
Registering to vote with or without a global health crisis may appear like an inconvenience, but it should be remembered that voting is a basic human right. Irene believes that her vote will make a change in this upcoming election.
“Kapag kasi pinagsama yung mga boto namin, makukuha namin yung target result na gusto namin. Isa pa, maling isipin na wala namang halaga ang isang boto, kasi kung maraming tao ang mag-iisip na wala namang halaga yung ‘isang boto’ nila, maraming mawawala. Let’s take a chance,” she said.
Registering to vote is a step in obtaining your power as a citizen. You get to engage in a democratic process, help elect deserving and competent politicians, and help make a positive change in our communities.
Your vote matters in electing the country’s leader, which will lead to a potential change in how we respond to problems like the pandemic.
According to spokesperson James Jimenez, Comelec has surpassed its target number of new voter registrants for the May 9, 2022 elections. The poll body said in June that there were 4.3 million first-time voters, breaching its target of 4 million. In the upcoming elections, there will be at least 60 million voters.
Be one of them. Be one of us.
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