Philippines’ Supreme Court urged to extend biometric voter registration period

October 30, 2015 - 

A group of students have called on the Philippines’ Supreme Court to urge the Commission on Elections to postpone the October 31 voter registration deadline for the 2016 general elections, citing technical difficulties of the biometrics registration technology, according to a report by The Standard.

The students, led by Kabataan party-list Rep. Terry Ridon, sent a 24-page urgent petition to the Supreme Court requesting that they issue a mandatory injunction ordering the Comelec to postpone the deadline until January 8, 2016 or more than two months from now.

Ridon, along with Anakbayan chairperson Vencer Crisostomo and National Union of Students of the Philippines president Sarah Jane Elago, also requested that the Supreme Court nullify the resolutions of the Comelec’s power to set the deadline.

Though the petition cites a few reasons for the extension, that main issue involves the Comelec’s latest admission that approximately three million voters are to be delisted if they do not submit their biometrics data by the October 31 deadline.

“An aggravating factor in this issue is the respondent’s implementation of the ‘No Bio, No Boto’ policy, which automatically delists registered voters who fail to have their biometrics data captured, pursuant to Republic Act No. 10367 or the Mandatory Biometrics Voter Registration Act,” said the petition. “With the very high volume of first-time registrants and voters in the May 9, 2016 elections, the Oct. 31, 2015 deadline set by respondent for the filing of application of registration of voters provides is utterly insufficient to accommodate first-time youth registrants, voters without biometrics, and voters highly eager to participate in the May 9, 2016 elections.”

According to the petitioners, the Comelec admitted several issues during the registration period, including “long queues and waiting, with some registration centers receiving up to 1,000 registrants per day; insufficient registration documents; malfunctioning or insufficient number of data capturing machines; and that DCM, which records the voters’ fingerprints, photographs and pertinent information, can only process around 250 applications a day.”

Ridon said they previously contacted the Comelec to extend the voter registration period, but the polling organization has not followed through on their request, leading them to bring the matter to the Supreme Court.

Previously reported, the Philippines’ Commission on Elections (Comelec) has called on celebrities to encourage their fans on social media to register their biometrics data so that they will be able to vote in the 2016 presidential elections.

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About Justin Lee

Justin Lee has been a contributor with Biometric Update since 2014. Previously, he was a staff writer for web hosting magazine and website, theWHIR. For more than a decade, Justin has written for various publications on issues relating to technology, arts and culture, and entertainment. Follow him on Twitter @BiometricJustin.