Comelec rejects calls to extend voter registration period, but longer hours OK’d

THE COMMISSION on Elections (Comelec) has rejected a proposal by lawmakers and non-government groups to extend the voter registration period beyond the Sept. 31 deadline, an official of the poll body said, citing timeline constraints and health issues.

Comelec Spokesperson James B. Jimenez said the poll body’s en banc junked the petition because an extension may delay preparations for the 2022 polls.

“The Commission is concerned that if we delay the end of voter registration, it will also cost corresponding delays in all other preparatory activities, especially those that depend on the finalization of the list of voters,” Mr. Jimenez told a virtual news briefing on Wednesday.

The poll body also took into consideration the “health and safety” of its personnel and the public, he added.

The poll body, however, has decided to extend voter registration hours and conduct enlistment even on Saturdays and holidays.

“Aabot tayo hanggang lampas alas-singko (We will go beyond the 5 p.m. schedule). The resolution will be coming out presently. We will get the details from there,” Mr. Jimenez said.

Earlier in the day, Comelec commissioner Rowena Amelia V. Guanzon said in a tweet that the en banc extended the voter registration hours up to 7:00 p.m. on weekdays and up to 5 p.m. on Saturdays.

Registration hours in areas under a general community quarantine and modified general quarantine are currently from 8 am to 5 pm on weekdays at local offices, and on Saturdays at satellite sites.

Mr. Jimenez said enlisting would not be allowed in areas under enhanced and modified lockdown categories.

“If ECQ (enhanced community quarantine) is extended, the suspension is likewise extended,” he said.

Several lawmakers and civic groups earlier asked the Comelec to extend the registration by at least a month, citing the repeated suspension of enlistment activities due to the coronavirus-induced lockdowns. Deadlines for the registration of voters had been extended in past elections, they said. — Kyle Aristophere T. Atienza

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