Comelec had enough time to prepare for 2022 polls - political analyst

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, September 25) - A political analyst said she does not buy the reason of the Commission on Elections (Comelec) for not extending the voter registration period for next year's polls.

Clarita Carlos, former University of the Philippines political science professor, pointed out that the poll body had sufficient time - even before the pandemic struck - to prepare for the 2022 elections.

"Comelec already knew, six years before, that there would be an election on May 9, 2022. If they have the brains in the right places, they would have provided and prepared for this," Carlos told CNN Philippines' Newsroom Weekend on Saturday.

Poll officials previously said extending the voter registration period beyond Sept. 30 will affect their preparations for the 2022 elections.

Carlos also wondered why Comelec did not push for a law that will implement electronic voting - emphasizing this proposal won't compromise personal data, since she said the only legal requirement most needed is the voter must be 18 years old on election day.

"How many times have we filed that e-voting as a bill? No one wants to champion it," Carlos said.

She also suggested a "continuous" voter registration period, where a citizen can register up to the day before the elections.

"Theoretically, a day before the elections, if all the logistics are in place, anyone can establish that he or she is 18 years old and can push a button to indicate a vote," Carlos said in response to complaints of long waiting hours and cutoff dates in the registration procedures in Comelec district offices across the country.

On Friday, Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon said the voter registration period can be carried out until January 2022 - citing Republic Act 8189 or the Voter's Registration Act of 1996, which states the activity can push through up to 120 days before election day.

Both the Senate and the House of Representatives are working on bills to extend the registration deadline to October 31. Comelec earlier said if the law is passed, they would have no choice but comply.

Comelec spokesman James Jimenez has announced top-level poll officials will meet next week to discuss if a longer registration period is doable and by how long, to be recommended to the en banc.

Some 63.8 million Filipinos are eligible to vote next year as of Sept. 21, with more lining up daily hoping to cast their ballots on May 9.