Comelec extends deadline for transfer of overseas voter records

Ina Reformina, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Sep 02 2021 08:30 PM

A woman registers for the 2022 national elections at an almost empty Comelec office in Aroceros, Manila on June 2, 2021 as voter registration remains low even after resuming operations last month.
A woman registers for the 2022 national elections at an almost empty Comelec office in Aroceros, Manila on June 2, 2021 as voter registration remains low even after resuming operations last month. Mores Heramis, ABS-CBN News

MANILA— Returning overseas Filipinos will have 28 more days to process the transfer of their active overseas voter records to the Philippine registry after the Commission on Elections (Comelec) extended the deadline to Sept. 30.

This was bared by the Comelec Office for Overseas Voting (OFOV) during Thursday’s meeting of the House Committee on Suffrage and Electoral Reforms.

“We would like to announce po that this deadline has been extended to align with the Sept. 30 deadline for overseas voters who are already in the Philippines and would like to transfer their voter records in the cities or municipalities in 2022. They can do so and file their application directly po with the office of the elections officers,” said OFOV director Bea Lozada. 

The initial deadline was Aug. 31. As of that day, the number of registered overseas voters reached 1,495,000.

In 2019, the total number of registered overseas voters was 1.82 million.

OFOV said it had to readjust the 2022 target due to “massive repatriation” brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic.

The pre-pandemic target was at 1.98 million but this is now down to 1.6 million for Halalan 2022.

VOTING EXPERIENCE AMID PANDEMIC

The House Committee on Suffrage and Electoral Reforms, meanwhile, asked the Comelec to complete in less than two weeks its time-and-motion study of the possible voting experience in the 2022 elections, taking into account the health and safety protocols that will be in place due to the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Lawmakers said the study should be able to test whether the pre-pandemic assignment of 800 voters per clustered precinct will still be feasible.

If the voting will be carried out for 12 hours on election day, that would leave each voter only one minute or less to complete the process, said Cavite Rep. Elpidio Barzaga Jr.

The Comelec said it would conduct a second time-and-motion study since the first simulation was “inconclusive” due to inclement weather. 

“We are planning to conduct another round of simulation of voting just to make sure na makukuha namin 'yung [we will get the] average time, voting cycle and voting process to make sure just in case i-increase natin 'yung [we increase the] number of hours,” said Comelec Deputy Director for Operations (DEDO) Teopisto Elnas, Jr. 

The House committee said the study should be completed by Sept. 15 so that the necessary amendments can be introduced during budget deliberations in the plenary. 

Caloocan 2nd district Rep. Edgar Erice stressed the poll body should submit contingency plans for 2 possible scenarios: multi-day elections, and reduction of number of voters in every clustered precinct. 

Comelec officials said they would comply with the requirement.

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