Friday, September 17, 2021

Comelec to suspend voter registration in areas under ECQ, MECQ

THE Commission on Elections (Comelec) said voter registration activities will be suspended in areas that will be placed under enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) or modified ECQ (MECQ).

"Needless to say, the Comelec strives continuously to register more eligible citizens. But at this perilous juncture, the top priority should be the safety and health of the electorate," said Comelec spokesperson James Jimenez.

Voter registration will automatically resume only when the quarantine status is downgraded to either general community quarantine (GCQ) or modified GCQ (MGCQ), or if quarantine restrictions are lifted entirely.

Metro Manila will revert to ECQ on August 6 to 20 while the entire Cebu, including its highly urbanized cities, will shift to MECQ on August 1 to 15.

Also under ECQ are the cities of Iloilo, Cagayan de Oro and Gingoog as well as the province of Iloilo, while Bataan and Ilocos Norte will be under MECQ.

Asked if the Comelec is worried about having a lower number of registered voters in the May 2022 elections because of the quarantine restrictions, Jimenez said they have already exceeded their projection.

"More than four million newly eligible voters are already included in the voter rolls, and we have already blown past earlier and lower projections of the total number of voters registered for the 2022 national and local elections," he said.

The voter registration period is set to end on September 30, 2021.

Meanwhile, Jimenez said they were open to the recommendations of Israeli experts on how to conduct the May 2022 elections.

"At this stage, all suggestions will be considered...No ideas are off the table for now," he said.

"There might, however, be legal impediments to holding elections away from designated voting centers," he added.

On Friday, an Israeli disaster management official said the country may consider establishing polling places inside Covid-19 wards as well as creating a system that will allow voting for those under home quarantine to allow Covid-19 patients to cast their votes.

Health Secretary Francisco Duque III responded by saying his agency is set to meet with the Comelec to come up with health and safety protocols for the elections. (HDT / SunStar Philippines)


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