At 6 a.m. today, May 9, 2022, poll precincts in all parts of the country will open for 65.7 million registered voters — the highest ever, which the Commission on Elections (Comelec) has dubbed as “historic” numbers even with the pandemic still in the background. The 65.7 million voters include the 1.8 million overseas Filipinos who have started voting last April 10.
In our democratic country, there is nothing more sacred than the right to vote. This right is embodied in three important written foundations — the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, and the 1987 Philippine Constitution. The Constitution guarantees that “we are a sovereign people, from where all government authority derives. Sovereignty — the power to govern — is exercised directly through voting, and indirectly through officials elected by the people as their public servants.”
To put it clearly, the will of the people is expressed in a clean, orderly, and honest election, where voters — no matter his or her economic status, educational attainment, position in a company, or sexual orientation — have an equal chance to choose a candidate. A CEO of a company, for example, will only have one ballot same with the ballot of the neighborhood baker; even the president of the Republic can only fill the same ballot as the one that will be filled up by a jeepney driver or tricycle operator. In the act of voting, we are all equal.
Polls open earlier this election cycle and will close at 7 p.m., giving voters ample time. In accordance with health protocols and to enforce physical distancing, the Comelec has reduced the number of voters assigned per polling precinct to 800, from 1,000 in 2019.
In an election cycle as hotly contested as this one, and with a campaign season as divisive as we had experienced, the power of the ballot will finally give authority to a new set of leaders who we want to lead us in the coming years. There are a total 325 national positions and 17,762 local positions that will be filled up, primordial of which is the position of president and vice-president.
From the 65.7 million registered voters, the Comelec said that the “game changers” will be the seven million newly registered voters. Some election experts have also said that the youth-adult segment — those aged between 18 and 41 — which comprises more than half of the electorate at 37 million, can also influence the election results.
As per election data, the top vote-rich region is still Calabarzon (Cavite, Laguna, Batangas, Rizal, Quezon) with 9.1 million voters, followed by NCR with 7.3 million voters. In terms of cities, Quezon City leads with 1.4 million voters, followed by the City of Manila with 1.1 million voters. With the Comelec expecting turnout to hover from 70 to 80 percent, which is almost 45 to 50 million votes, this would be the highest in our history, breaking the record 2016 national elections which saw Rodrigo Duterte elected as president.
So, why vote? It is not only exercising your right to choose your leaders, but also cherishing freedom as voting is not a privilege given to all citizens of this world.
Vote because you have a voice in the country’s direction in terms of foreign policy, economic development, climate resiliency, and post-pandemic recovery.
Vote because this is not just about you, but about your children, and your children’s children. For whatever our elected leaders will decide to do in the next six years will reverberate and have repercussions in the future.
Rise. Go out. Vote!