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Romualdez Pushes Online Voter Registration

Leyte Rep. Martin Romualdez
House Majority Leader and Leyte Rep. Martin Romualdez

HOUSE Majority Leader and Leyte Rep. Martin Romualdez on Saturday vowed to prioritize the passage of a bill mandating the government to adopt an online system for voter’s registration.

Romualdez, chairman of the powerful House committee on rules, said he would push for the approval of House Bill (HB) 7063 that he filed together with the late Senior Citizens party-list Rep. Francisco “Jun” Datol Jr., who was chairman of the House special committee on senior citizens. Datol Jr. succumbed to coronavirus disease-19 (COVID-19).

“We are going to prioritize the passage of this very timely legislation that our very dear friend, the late Congressman Jun pushed until his death. This will also help government’s campaign to quell the pandemic,” Romualdez said.

Romualdez underscored the need for the Commission on Elections (Comelec) to make the electoral system “resilient” following the continued threat of coronavirus disease (COVID-19).

“With no immediate end for the COVID-19 pandemic in sight, it is believed that rather than wait for the pandemic to end, the Comelec should be pro-active and adopt innovative measures, such as online voter’s registration, to facilitate voter’s registration during the COVID-19 pandemic and for it continually fulfill its mandate of protecting the Filipino’s right of suffrage,” Romualdez said.

HB 7063 seeks to amend Republic Act (RA) 8184, otherwise known as the “Voter’s Registration Act of 1996,” to ensure an “enabling environment” for people to register as voters amid the pandemic crisis.

“By adopting a system for online voter’s registration, we do not just make our electoral system more resilient to unexpected calamities such as the COVID-19 pandemic but also create a system that provides the Filipino electorate and our government an efficient, convenient, and cost-effective mechanism for voter’s registration in the long term,” according to them. HB 7063 provides that the personal or electronic filing of application of registration of voters shall be conducted daily in the office of the election officer during regular office hours or through the official website for such purpose as designated by the commission.

The bill provides that to register as a voter, he or she shall personally or electronically accomplish an application form for registration as prescribed by the commission in three copies before the election officer on any date during office hours or through the official website for such purpose as designated by the commission after having acquired the qualifications of a voter.

“The application for registration shall contain three specimen signatures of the applicant, clear and legible rolled prints of his left and right thumbprints, with four identification size copies of his latest photograph, submitted personally or through electronic means, attached thereto, to be taken at the expense of the commission,” the measure said.

In case of online submission of a completed voter’s registration by an individual, the bill provides that the commission shall send the individual a notice confirming the commission’s receipt of the application and providing instructions on how the individual may check the status of the application.

“Furthermore, the commission shall employ security measures which are necessary to ensure the accuracy and integrity of electronically submitted voter registration applications,” it added.

The measure provides that within 30 days from the effectivity of this Act, the Comelec, in consultation with the Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT), Department of Science and Technology (DoST), Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG), National Commission for Senior Citizens, and other stakeholders, is tasked to promulgate the implementing rules and regulations of the proposed Act.