With three days left before the deadline of the country’s national voter registration, various youth groups in the Philippines called for its extension.
“Time is running out,” said Justine Balane, secretary general of Akbayan Youth.
He said that with three days left before the deadline, there are an estimated 11 million Filipino voters who are unregistered for the 2022 elections.
“The [Commission on Elections] can’t be asleep at the wheel; they have to extend the registration before it’s too late,” said Balane.
Members of Akbayan Youth and First Time Voters Network held a demonstration outside the House of Representatives building on Monday, September 27, to urge legislators to pass the Voters’ Registration Extension Bill.
Earlier, the College Editors Guild of the Philippines also called on the Commission on Elections to extend the voter registration until October 31.
“We reiterate that not extending the voter registration period would put thousands, if not millions, of future voters unable to exercise the right to suffrage just because they prioritized health and safety over registering within an inconvenient, constrained time,” said Regina Tolentino, deputy secretary general of the organization.
She said the poll body “should consider the health of their voters, and a valid extension will give way to more Filipinos to exercise their right to suffrage.”
On Friday, September 24, the House committee on suffrage and electoral reforms approved the bill seeking to extend the current period for voter registration to October 31.
Voter registration for the 2022 Philippine elections is supposed to end on September 30, but lawmakers and other stakeholders are worried that sticking to this deadline will lead to the disenfranchisement of millions of qualified voters.
House Bill 10261 hurdled the committee level despite appeals from the Commission on Elections to possibly extend the registration period for only one week.
The poll body had suspended voter registration for six to eight months in various parts of the country since the pandemic began in 2020.
There are 62 million Filipinos registered for the polls on May 9, 2022, but the projected voting population is over 73 million, according to the Philippine Statistics Authority.
“We thank our legislators for heeding the call of the youth with this bill to extend voter registration,” said Balane. “We urge for the bill to swiftly pass today in both chambers so we can finally dash any threats of disenfranchisement.”