Editorial: Deadline beating-A A +A
Friday, November 2, 2012
THE last day of the registration of voters for the 2013 elections can be an interesting arena of study on the kind of mentality many voters, or okay, Filipinos possess.
It’s not that Commission on Elections (Comelec) personnel all over the country didn’t expect the big crowd that day. They were, but even that didn’t matter. Lessons in the registration process for the 2010 elections went unheeded, or if they were, the crowd estimate was wrong.
Comelec’s decision to follow the deadline and end the registration even if hundreds of people were still lining in its offices was obviously borne out of necessity. But it was also interpreted as a way to send a message to would-be voters in the 2016 elections that they should not be complacent the next time around.
It’s a delicate balancing act between following the rules and respecting people’s right to vote. One doubts, though, if lessons can be learned this way.
The message, for example, has already been blunted by Kabataan Party-list Rep. Raymond Palatino (and possibly other groups and individuals who would follow his lead later) to petition the Supreme Court to compel Comelec to extend the registration until Jan. 12, 2013. It’s possible the High Court would grant the petition.
Then there’s the pull of the nature of some voters. Even of the registration will be extended, one can be assured that a big crowd will again show up on Jan. 12. It’s simply what some voters are.
The registration process that ended on Wednesday gave registrants as long as one year and four months to go any Comelec office to file their papers. One could not be continuously busy in that span of time; there should have been some gaps—a day or several days—that one could have used to register.
And yet many waited for the deadline to arrive before going to the Comelec offices and they even had the gall to boo election registrars for refusing to accommodate them when the deadline came.
This does not mean that Comelec should also be indifferent to this recurring problem in the process of registering voters in an election period. The practice of continuing registration has largely been a success. It is time for Comelec to find ways to address the problems posed by the crowding of registrants in its offices on the last day of registration without disenfranchising them.
Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on November 03, 2012.