(UPDATE) Comelec uncovers 300,000 fingerprint matches in voters' records


Posted at Jan 19 2010 06:46 PM | Updated as of Jan 20 2010 09:11 AM

MANILA, Philippines - The Commission on Elections (Comelec) on Tuesday uncovered more than 300,000 fingerprint matches from the records of voters who registered for the 2010 elections.

Comelec Commissioner Rene Sarmiento said the poll body's barangay affairs and information and technology departments discovered the multiple registrants after auditing biometrics records of some 10 million registered voters in the National Capital Region, Autonomous Region for Muslim Mindanao, Central Luzon and Calabarzon.

"With the use of biometrics, we are able to discover those who registered more than once. They cannot question this because walang kawala ang fingerprints," Sarmiento told ABS-CBN.

The Comelec official said that of the 315,307 fingerprint matches undergoing initial verification, 43,902 were already found to be identical "beyond reasonable doubt" after they rated 99.9% of similiarty based on the Comelec's automated fingerprint identification system (AFIS).

Sarmiento said double and multiple registrants will only be allowed to vote once in the precinct where they first registered. He noted that some of the voters could have registered twice after changing addresses.

The Omnibus Election Code states that any person found guilty of double/multiple registration shall be punished with imprisonment of 1 to 6 years. The guilty party shall also be sentenced to suffer disqualification to hold public office and deprivation of his right to suffrage.

Erratum - An earlier version of the report erroneously indicated that 300,000 double registrants have been uncovered. 300,000 fingerpint matches (not persons or voters) were found and are still undergoing verification, of which 43,902 fingerprint matches were already found to be identical "beyond reasonable doubt".