Ensure all new voters can vote in 2010, Kabataan party tells Comelec

MANILA, January 8, 2010—Kabataan party-list and allied organizations filed yesterday a Manifestation to the Supreme Court (SC), asking to direct the Commission on Elections (Comelec) to ensure that all newly registered voters, through the extended voters registration, will be able to vote in the 2010 national polls.

Kabataan Rep. Raymond V. Palatino said Comelec’s decision not to print machine-readable ballots equivalent to the number of actual voters, including those who have been registered last December 29, is “a deliberate act to disenfranchise the additional registrants during the special registration period.”

Last December 15, the SC En Banc has decided to extend the voters’ registration until January 5, 2010 since it will not violate any existing laws in suffrage.

However, some Comelec officials allegedly issued statements stating that those who have been registered during the special registration period will just be “chance passengers,” or can just vote if there are surplus ballots.

“These statements are simply unacceptable. The Comelec should do all means to ensure that additional number of new voters is granted their right to vote in the May elections,” the 29-year old lawmaker said.

In their Manifestation filed before the SC, Kabataan Partylist members and officials argued that the Comelec is bounded by the existing laws to ensure that all Filipinos, of legal age, can participate in the national, local and special elections.

Meanwhile, Kabataan Partylist said the poll body failed to comply with the December 15 decision by the SC as it has shortened the registration period, by virtue of Resolution No. 8719.

On that Resolution, the poll body only allotted five days, December 21, 22, 23, 28 and 29 for the actual registrations and keeping the remaining days for the administrative aspects of the registration like completion of Book of Voters, posting notices of the Election Registration Board and hearings on oppositions to applications for registration.

“All qualified voters must be allowed to register daily during regular office hours, as clearly and categorically declared in the SC decision, except during the period starting 120 days before a regular election,” says Palatino as stated in their Manifestation.

The lawmaker also told Comelec that it should recant its earlier statement saying that there is a “very low turnout” during the special registration period.

“The number of additional registrants only proved that the extension was the right move. The more than 250,000 new registrants in five days during the Christmas season is a success in itself, notwithstanding Comelec’s confusing and discouraging statements. However, Comelec could have reached its target of registering an additional 2 million voters during the extended registration period if it followed the SC order, did not limit the number of registrants per day, and had an efficient information drive campaign,” he explained. (CBCPNews.com)