Jail time awaits voters purposely registering twice, multiple times - Garcia

Commission on Elections (COMELEC) Chairman George Erwin Garcia reiterated on Friday, Jan. 27 his warning to qualified voters not to intentionally register multiple times to avoid the possible penalty of 1 to 6 years of imprisonment.

New registrants flock to the Comelec office in Arroceros, Manila on July 7, 2022 as the poll body continues the voter registration. (Ali Vicoy / MANILA BULLETIN)

In a statement, Garcia said that the poll body is incessantly trying to reach out to as many qualified voters as possible with its call to register for the upcoming elections. Aside from the Comelec field offices, several sites have been set up in malls and government offices to execute this.

With numerous registration sites available, it is to the poll body's knowledge that unscrupulous registrants will try to exploit the said opportunity for inappropriate use.

However, Garcia explained that the poll body is up on its toes for eventualities of such nature and is armed with necessary systems and laws, and is ready to use these to prosecute anyone who would commit the violation.

"Meron po kaming AFIS, 'yun pong Automated Fingerprint Identification System na ikina- countercheck po namin kung ang isang botante ay registered na before or multiple registrant ba 'yan... 'pag napatunayan namin, patatanggal namin 'yung registration, at the same time pwede pong maharap ng kasong election offense. Isa hanggang anim na taong pagkakakulong 'yun pong botante na gagawa po noon," Garcia said.

The poll chief has confirmed in an interview that Comelec will soon start filing cases against those who were already caught having registered more than once. The process on which this action would be undertaken is currently being finalized at the En Banc level.

On the other hand, continuing registration for the voters of the Barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan Elections will not be extended and is scheduled to end on January 31, 2023. Garcia is inviting all qualified Filipinos to register now and exercise their right to vote in the next elections.

"Sana po dayuhin n'yo na, puntahan n'yo na ang aming registration sites sa opisina ng COMELEC. Sa mga malls meron din po tayong satellite registration, at sa Registration Anywhere Project sites natin, pwede rin po kayong magparehistro," the poll chief said.