Voters brave lines

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Tuesday, May 6, 2014

HUNDREDS were already in line when poll offices opened Tuesday morning for the first day of the registration of voters, but some had to wait up to five hours for their turn to sign up.

For those who came prepared and filled out their forms fast, the entire registration process took less than 10 minutes.

As of 7 p.m., 1,180 applicants completed the registration in Cebu City -- 632 in the south district and 548 in the north district. But their application is still subject for approval by the Election Registration Board.


Some came to register as early as 5 a.m. to comply with employment and enrollment requirements, while some are after the voter’s ID.

But 81-year-old Gregoria Emelido said her only reason for braving the heat is so she can finally register and vote for the first time in the 2016 presidential elections.

Voters line up
IN THE LINE OF DUTY. First-day registrants line up outside the Commission on Elections in Cebu City. As of 7 p.m. Tuesday, 1,180 applicants completed the registration process in the city. (Sun.Star Photo/Ruel Rosello)

Sisters Ruvi Jane, 19, and Diane May Flores, 18, registered also for the first time so the latter can be accepted in Cebu City’s Department of Manpower Development and Placement (DMDP) for a course in computer programming.

Emelido and the Flores sisters will be among the 70,000 to 80,000 new voters that the Commission on Elections (Comelec) Cebu City offices expect to have when the registration ends on October 31, 2015.

Stay listed

As of 2013, Cebu City had 574,855 voters -- 309,570 in the south district and 265,285 in the north district.

North district election officer Marchel Sarno said he expects a 10 to 12-percent increase in the number of voters, but they also expect to remove some 63,400 voters from their list.

Registered voters who failed to vote in the last two elections will be delisted and will have to register again, he said.

At least 44,071 voters in Cebu City who do not have biometrics yet will also be required to go to the poll offices to have their biometrics taken. They will also be removed from the list of voters if they fail to do so.

“Those who do not have biometrics will also be removed from the list of voters and will not be able to vote in 2016, as required by the Mandatory Biometrics Registration Act,” Sarno said.

A person’s biometrics -- the registrant’s fingerprints, photo and signature -- are taken using a data-capturing machine as part of the registration process.

Bring a pen

While it may take hours to wait for your turn to register, the actual registration process takes less than 10 minutes if the registrant is able to read and write.

For a speedy registration, poll officers asked registrants to bring their own ball pen and at least one valid ID, which can be a driver’s license or any government-issued ID, passport, company or school ID.

“There will be delays only if the registrant needs assistance in filling out the forms, or if they write slowly or have to look for a pen. Otherwise, the registration is finished in five to 10 minutes,” a Comelec officer told Sun.Star Cebu.

Leonisa Javati, 58, said the registration in the north district poll office was well organized and convenient.

“Taas lang gyud ang linya pero ug makasud na ka, paspas na ang pagrehistro. Maayo kay mu-assist man sad ang mga taga Comelec, tabangan ka nila para madali (The line was long but once you get in, the registration itself is fast. Comelec’s personnel assist you so everything goes smoothly),” she said after completing the process.

Comelec offices will be open from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., Sunday to Thursday, to accept registrants until October 31, 2015.

17 months

While the registration will run for 17 months, Sarno urged the public to register early and avoid signing up on the last day.

“Dili ta maghuot ug magtapok only on the first few days and the last days of registration. Take advantage of the months in between, when the lines are not that long,” he said.

In Talisay City, Election Assistant Efren Arnejo said that as of Tuesday, about 11,683 registrants lacked biometric data.

Arnejo said that registrants for the 2016 polls must have biometric data to comply with Republic Act 10367, or the Mandatory Biometrics Registration Act of 2013.

Voters who fail to submit for validation before the May 2016 elections will be removed from the voters list and not be allowed to vote.

Hundreds of interested voters from the city flocked to the Comelec office in Talisay City to register yesterday, but Arnejo explained that they can only accommodate 150 registrants because they have only one computer.

Cebu Provincial Election Supervisor (PES) Lionel Marco Castillano said the Comelec expected a good turnout of registrants on the first day, but that the situation stayed manageable.

Biometrics for 262T

Provincial Election Officer Ferdinand Gujilde said there were fewer registrants in the towns than in the cities.

In Mandaue City, Gujilde said, there was a bigger crowd than expected because registered voters who needed to validate their information mistakenly thought the deadline was Tuesday.

These voters had been individually informed through a letter three months ago, he said.

Gujilde said some of the voters went home after they were informed Tuesday that they have until October 31, 2015 to validate.

In Cebu, there are 2,598,534 registered voters, including Cebu City and Lapu-Lapu City. Of the total, 262,653 voters do not yet have biometrics.

“Kung ang mga pulitiko duna’y gusto iparehistro mas maayo magsayo kay kon adto na sa deadline duna’y possibility nga mabalibaran. Unya moingon nga ang Comelec nidapig sa pikas pulitiko (Politicians who want their supporters to register had better do so early, because if they wait until the deadline, they may be declined. And then they’d accuse Comelec of taking sides),” he said. (Sun.Star Cebu)

Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on May 07, 2014.

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