First-time voters allowed register via express lanes

FIRST-TIME voters have been allowed by the Commission on Elections (Comelec) to use the express lanes established for elderly, persons with disabilities and pregnant women in registering for the Barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan (SK) polls.

"It is essential to provide an opportunity for first-time voters, who are 18 years old on or before the October 28, 2013 barangay Elections, to be able to register as voters and to participate in the said elections," said the Comelec in Resolution 9750.

"(The Comelec resolves) to allow registrants who are 18 years old on or before the October 28, 2013 Barangay Elections to queue in the express lanes for Elderly, PWD, and Heavily Pregnant Applicants and be given similar priority/preferential treatment," it added.

To note, express lanes have been set-up in the Offices of Election Officers (OEOs) to serve members of the elderly, PWDs, and pregnant females so that they will be given priority treatment and won't have to go through the long queues during registration.

The Comelec, though, noted that the huge influxes of registrants at the OEOs are not made up of first-time voters.

"They are mostly registered voters, who desire to apply for the transfer of their registrations to other barangays, municipalities or cities," said the resolution dated July 26.

The registration period for the October 28 polls, which began Monday, is set to end July 31.

In the same resolution, the Comelec decided to exclude police clearance among the valid documents accepted when applying for registration.

According to the resolution, clearances released by the Philippine National Police (PNP) are now unacceptable as proof of identity of the applicant.

"In order that only applications for registration of those whose identities have been truly established are accepted... (the Comelec resolves) to exclude PNP clearance from the list of valid documents as proof of identity," said the Comelec.

The poll body made the decision after it noticed a surge in the number of applicants for PNP clearance during the period of voter registration.

"Some applicants secure PNP clearance solely for the purpose of having a valid document as proof of their identity and to have their applications for registration/transfer accepted," the Comelec said.

To note, registration applicants for the barangay polls are asked only to present any document from among their current office, postal, student, senior citizen, Social Security System/Government Service Insurance System, Integrated Bar of the Philippines’ identification cards, as well as National Bureau of Investigation/Philippine National Police clearance, driver's license, passport, and Professional Regulation Commission license. (HDT/Sunnex)
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