The Commission on Elections (Comelec) has observed a low number of applicants in the first few days of the voter registration in the National Capital Region.
Comelec spokesperson James Jimenez said the COVID-19 pandemic may have contributed to this.
According to the poll official, their local offices in NCR processed only a total of 5,028 transactions – from registration of new voters and reinstatement in the list of voters, among others.
“That, my friends, is a very low number. But it isn’t entirely surprising. While the interest in registering – especially among the youth – is unmistakable, there are several factors that push the numbers down. The first, of course is that people are (rightfully so!) afraid of COVID-19,” said Jimenez in a blog post.
The second reason for the low numbers, he said, is the lingering suspicion among people that they won’t be allowed to go out and register.
“To be perfectly fair, I have yet to hear of a person arrested or even just accosted by the authorities for going out of their homes to register. Again, not surprising because the Omnibus Guidelines issued by the Inter-Agency Task Force clearly do not prohibit going out to register. Still, people are worried and I don’t blame them,” Jimenez said.
He said their call to make appointments before heading to voter registration centers may have also contributed to this. “For the record, prior appointments are recommended, but they are not mandatory,” said Jimenez.
Another reason, he said, is the unfortunate penchant of their website to go slow and wonky under the load of thousands of people trying to download the same resources at the same time.
“To help address this, we’ve set up alternate download sites. There’s a download site on the Comelec’s Facebook page, and another one in this very blog.https://jamesjimenez.com/jabjimenez/,” Jimenez said.
He said there is a high likelihood also that the Comelec’s health protocols, such as the “no face mask, no face shield, no entry” policy, are working to severely limit the number of people each office processes in a day.
“They account for a significant number of turn-aways. It’s not the ideal situation but, all things considered, better safe than sorry,” said Jimenez.
Voter registration for the May 2022 polls resumed nationwide on Sept. 1 except in areas under Enhanced Community Quarantine (ECQ) or Modified ECQ.