Sunday, June 21, 2009

Comelec delists 6M dubious poll registrants

Nearly 6 million voters were removed from the voters list of the Commission on Elections (Comelec).

Teopisto Elnas Jr., Comelec director for Election Barangay Affairs Department, said the 5.644 million “deactivated” registration covers only the first four months of the year.

Elnas, in a telephone interview with the Tribune, said for January alone, they removed a total of 3.9 million voters, while in April, about 1.2 million were delisted.

He, though, noted that under the law, the number of delisted voters should be less than a thousand, or 940 to be exact.

Elnas said the bulk of the deactivated voters came from the National Capital Region with more than 1 million.

Voters whose names were stricken from the list were those of persons who failed to vote in the two previous elections – in the May 2007 senatorial polls and the October 2007 barangay elections.

Other reasons for the delisting of voters includes loss of Filipino citizenship, death and double registration, Elnas said.

He said in January, the Comelec removed a total of 162,000 “dead” registrants and another 58,000 of such in the second quarter.

“The basis of our election officers in the delisting of dead voters is the certification coming from local civil registrars,” he said.

But Elnas said they expect the number of those to be stricken off from the voters list to decline in the third and fourth quarter of the year.

“The number has gone down, from 3.9 million in January, it went down to 1.2 million. (So) we expect that in the next two quarters, this will further drop,” he noted.

The Comelec has asked Supreme Court Chief Justice Reynato Puno yesterday to direct all judges in the regional and metropolitan trial courts to fast-track the resolution of the petition for inclusion and exclusion of registration to give the commission time to print the names of the qualified voters for the first-ever automated national elections next year.

Citing the Voters Registration Act of 1996, Comelec spokesman James Jimenez said the court has been given a 15-day reglamentary period to rule on the petition for inclusion and 10 days for the petition for exclusion.

Jimenez said the Comelec, through a resolution it issued last May 28, adjusted the filling of petitions for inclusion and exclusion in order to “cope with the timelines of the commission in the configuration of the machines (PCOS), printing of the elections day computerized list of voters, official ballots and other accountable forms” for the automated elections next year. Marie A. Surbano - Tribune

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