In the New Normal, We Register to Vote: A Guide for First-Time Voters in the Philippines
At the 2022 Philippine general election, your vote is your voice
So much has changed since the outbreak of COVID-19 that routines, milestones and civic duties will continue to meet upgrades in the name of health and safety. Registering to vote in the Philippines, now that voter resumption is underway, is one of them.
The Commission on Elections (COMELEC) has announced that until September 30, 2021, the doors are once again open to eligible first-time voters so they, too, can exercise their right in the 2022 national and local elections.
What’s at stake? What do you need to bring? What are the newly imposed protocols in light of the pandemic? Here is everything you need to know about registering to vote in the Philippines.
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Why is the 2022 election important?
The 2022 national elections will decide a new president, a vice president, 12 senators, 238 congressional representatives and 59 party-list representatives.
Given this scope, even the smallest margin of votes could mean the difference between one candidate winning over another. Along with this, the difference between life-changing policies on a national level for better or worse.
Who can register to vote?
Citizens are eligible to vote when they fulfill the following:
- They are at least eighteen (18) years old on or before the national and local elections on May 9, 2022
- They are residents of the Philippines for at least one (1) year
- They are living in the place where they intend to vote for at least six (6) months before May 9, 2022
- They are not otherwise disqualified by law
When and where can eligible individuals register?
Applicants can register Tuesday through Saturday between 8AM and 3PM at their local COMELEC offices or Office of the Election Officer (OEO).
For a full list of registration centers, tap here. Do note, however, that registration is still suspended in areas under enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) and modified ECQ (MECQ).
The last day of voter registration is on September 30, 2021.
What to Accomplish Beforehand
To expedite the registration process, applicants are advised to do the following:
- Download the voter registration application form found here, which must be printed back to back.
- Fill in all the necessary personal information, but do not affix a signature just yet.
- For persons with disabilities, senior citizens with disabilities, indigenous people and members of indigenous cultural communities, a supplementary data form is also required. Tap here to view the additional form to download.
What to Bring
Applicants are strongly advised to bring their own ballpoint pen with black ink on registration day. In addition, other requirements include:
- The accomplished application form without a signature, which needs to be personally filed before the Election Officer (EO) on duty.
- One valid, COMELEC-accepted identification that features a photograph and a signature such as:
- Company identification card (ID), with the signature of the employer or authorized representative
- Postal ID
- PWD Discount ID
- Student’s ID or library card, signed by the school authority
- Senior Citizen’s ID
- Driver’s license
- NBI clearance
- SSS/GSIS ID
- Integrated Bar of the Philippine (IBP) ID
- License issued by the Professional Regulatory Commission (PRC)
- Certificate of Confirmation issued by the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples (NCIP) in case of members of ICCs or IPs
- A photocopy of ID selected from the list above.
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What to Wear
Applicants are required to wear face masks and face shields. Non-compliance with this new protocol grants the COMELEC the right to ban entry.
What to Expect
The new step-by-step process of voter registration is as follows:
- Upon entry, go through the hand sanitation station and a foot bath.
- Fill out the health declaration form. Tap here to download your own copy.
- Present their requirements: one valid ID with a photocopy and the filled-in application form.
- Proceed to the Voter Registration Machine (VRM) for biometrics capturing. This is the only step wherein face masks and face shields are to be removed.
- Receive an acknowledgment receipt.
Physical distancing of at least two (2) meters must be observed through and through. Expect that only a certain number of people will be allowed inside the establishment throughout the registration process. Senior citizens, persons with disabilities (PWDs) and pregnant women, meanwhile, will be granted access to an express lane.
This isn’t a new development, but we’ll say it again: those who don’t vote are not exempt from bearing the brunt of government policies. Do your part and exercise your right to vote. We’ll see you in the polls in 2022.
Art Alexandra Lara