Young voter power

Published September 26, 2021, 12:05 AM

by Dr. Jun Ynares


Dr. Jun Ynares

The sad news is that we may still be voting using the pre-pandemic onsite voting methods in next year’s national elections.

The good news is that our countrymen appear determined to exercise their sacred right to choose their leaders no matter what the odds may be.

This past week, media reported a surge in the number of people trying to beat the deadline for the registration of new voters and the reactivation of old voters who may have been stricken out of the voter’s list due to their failure to cast the ballot in the last two polls.

It will be recalled that the Commission on Election (COMELEC) set for itself the goal of registering some four million new voters prior to the May 2022 elections. Based on reports, the COMELEC surpassed that target as early as June this year.

At the start of this year, there were fears that the poll body might fall behind the target. The concern was based on the fact that people cannot go out of their homes to register and there is yet no online method for voter registration. The raging pandemic earlier appeared to have posed a major stumbling block to the bid to get more Filipinos involved in the democratic process of electing those who will govern them for the next three or six years.

Those fears are now erased. As of the last official count, it looks like there are now more than 60 million Filipinos who are registered voters.

This is more than its original projected number of 59 million.

Based on the latest official United Nations count, there are now about 111 million Filipinos.

This means more than one half of our total population can vote in the May 2022 elections.

Here’s an interesting fact: According to the COMELEC, more than 50 percent of the total number of registered voters belong to the youth sector.

In a media briefing, the COMELEC spokesperson said nearly 32 million voters out of the latest count of 60 million-plus are in the 18-40 years old bracket. That bracket is what the poll body categorizes as the “youth vote.”

If the “youth vote” goes out in full force to vote in the May, 2022 elections, they will be the single biggest factor that would determine who will govern the nation in the next six years.

It makes sense that this will be the age bracket to which most campaign messages and materials will be directed. Candidates who intend to win in the next elections will be courting the vote of this sector and will attempt to identify with their aspirations to the best extent possible.

It will be interesting to find out how the “youth vote” will look at and consider the age of the potential presidential aspirants in the forthcoming national elections.

Would young Filipinos prefer a President whose age is closer to theirs? Or, would they consider advanced age as guarantee of wisdom and more seasoned leadership? No one has the answer to that question yet.

In the current universe of personalities who just might make a bid for the presidency, Senator Richard Gordon would be the oldest at 76. Senator Manny Pacquiao would be the youngest at 42.

Here are the present ages of the possible contenders: Gordon, 76; Senator Ping Lacson, 73; Former Senator Bongbong Marcos, 64; Vice President Leni Robredo, 56; Senator Bong Go, 47; Manila Mayor Isko Moreno, 46; Davao City Mayor Sarah Duterte, 43; Pacquiao, 42.

Would the age of the candidate really matter? According to majority of Americans voted, it may not be a game-changer. After all, they had just elected the oldest person to ever assume the most powerful political office in the world. US President Joe Biden had just turned 78 when he was sworn into office in January this year.

Our current Chief Executive, President Rodrigo Duterte is, on record, the oldest President at the time of inauguration. He was 71 when he took his oath. The youngest was the late President Emilio Aguinaldo who assumed office at the age of 29. Of course, that was before there was a Constitution which set the age requirements for the Presidency.

The next youngest would be the late President Ramon Magsaysay who took his oath of office at the age of 46. His was also one of the shortest stints in Malacañang, having died in a plane crash before he could finish his term.

Young Filipino voters are in a position to influence the course of events in our country.

We are optimistic that they will come out in full force in May 2022. Young people have less fears than older ones. They are bolder and the odds are that present circumstances would not deter them from casting their ballots.

They hold awesome power. We hope they use it wisely.

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