The recently concluded US elections reignited the awareness of Filipinos that elections for our country is not that far away. On May 9, 2022, a.k.a. Election Day, the national elections, as well as the postponed local elections, would proceed. While you probably think that’s still about 18 months from now and you have some time before then, it would never be too early to register as a voter, even in the middle of the pandemic. So here’s a step-by-step breakdown of what you need to know about voter registration during the pandemic.
Step 1: Check if you’re eligible
Okay, you’re all fired up after seeing the US Elections and you’ve decided to actually register to vote as early as possible. Now, you’ve got to make sure you meet the requirements to make you eligible to vote. To be a registered voter, you must be:
- a Filipino citizen
- at least 18 years old on or before Election Day
- a resident of the Philippines for at least one year and a resident of the place in which you intend to vote for at least 6 months
Step 2: Know COMELEC’s schedule
If you thought you had time, well, you’re not exactly wrong. Voter registration resumed last September 1, 2020 and is scheduled to end on September 30, 2021. That might seem like plenty of time, but when you take into account the pandemic and the subsequent community quarantines across the nation, you’re going to have to plan things out wisely. So it’s really better to register early rather than postponing it for later.
Registration is accepted at Commission on Elections (COMELEC) offices from Tuesdays to Fridays, including holidays (unless otherwise announced) from 8:00 AM to 3:00 PM. COMELEC used to accept applications on Saturdays, but they have recently changed their weekend schedule.
Step 3: Determine if registration is open in your location
Great, you’re still here. That means you’re eligible, right? Now you have to make sure your local COMELEC office is accepting registration. And now you’re probably thinking, whaaat, I thought voter registration resumed already.
Yes, voter registration has resumed, but only for areas under general community quarantine (GCQ). If your municipality is still under enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) or modified ECQ, then you’d need to wait for a bit, as registration is on hold in these locations.
Step 4: Schedule an appointment
ICYMI: Voter registration is ongoing! #MagpaRehistroKa na!
— COMELEC (@COMELEC) September 3, 2020
While COMELEC offices do accept walk-ins, they also prioritize those with appointments, so it’s better to schedule one as soon as possible. For Metro Manila residents, this handy directory by COMELEC spokesperson James Jimenez can help you locate your local COMELEC office and know how to schedule an appointment. If you’re residing outside Metro Manila, COMELEC compiled the schedules per region on their Facebook page.
Step 5: Download the application forms
Having trouble downloading the application form?
— COMELEC (@COMELEC) September 3, 2020
Most registrants only need to fill out the CEF-1 (which is the actual registration form) and Coronavirus Self Declaration Form. If applicable, there is also a supplementary data form for persons with disabilities (PWDs) and indigenous people.
All forms must be printed on long bond paper (8.5 x 13 inches) and must be printed back-to-back, such that there is only 1 piece of paper you’ll be submitting for each form. You can download all the forms here and fill it out before going to the COMELEC office. But make sure you do NOT affix your signature yet. You can only sign the form before an Election Officer.
Step 6: Prepare all the necessary documents and materials
On top of the COMELEC forms, you also need to bring a couple of other documents, depending on your need. If you’re only registering to vote or transferring from one local election office to another, then you only need to bring your forms and at least 1 of the following valid IDs and its photocopy:
- Employee’s identification card (ID), with the signature of the employer or an 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
- any other valid ID
If you’re already a registered voter and simply need to change something in your entry (i.e. change of name due to marriage, or court order, or the like), you need to bring the certified true copy of the following documents:
- certification by the solemnizing officer
- Marriage contract or court order with a certificate of finality
- Order by the Civil Registrar or Consul General
Step 7: Head on to your appointment
Voter registration starts tomorrow! #MagpaRehistroKa na!
Here’s how to do it: pic.twitter.com/C25Ocj7sie
— COMELEC (@COMELEC) August 31, 2020
Done with scheduling an appointment? Now all is left is to wait for the date and go through the actual registration procedures. You should read up on the safety procedures implemented by COMELEC so you know what to do upon arrival. Make sure to prepare all the things you must bring: your forms, IDs, documents, your own ballpen, face mask and face shield, alcohol or hand sanitizer, and a bottle of water.
Registration may vary from one local election office to another, but it generally goes like this:
- Visitors inside the office premises are limited, so you may be waiting outside for some time and asked to fill out contact tracing forms.
- When you get inside the office, an election officer will you review your application, and when deemed ready, asked you to affix your signature in front of them.
- The election officer will then log your application into the digital Election Registration Board’s (ERB) system.
- Your photo will be taken and your biometrics captured.
- Lastly, there will be a stub provided by the COMELEC personnel, which serves as your acknowledgment receipt that indicates that you have applied for registration on this date in this election office. So make sure you keep it! Take note that this doesn’t necessarily mean you’re already approved and registered.
Step 8: Stay informed while waiting for the elections
— We The Youth Vote (@WeTheYouthVote) September 6, 2020
While waiting for approval and the actual elections, make sure to do your research so you can make use of your voting capacity to the fullest. If you want more timely updates for voters, you can check out We the Youth Vote. They will be conducting webinars about the elections from the present until the 2022 election period.
Got a schedule to register already? Or are you already registered? Share your experience with us below!