Are you a registered voter? Or maybe you’re not sure of your status? With the election period approaching, you should make sure that you’re eligible to vote by then. The Commission on Elections (COMELEC) recently resumed voter’s registration, and if you’re wondering how different it would be in the time of COVID-19 compared to before, here are your questions answered.
Q: Do I really have to be a registered voter?
Voting to elect your public officials is your right as a citizen of the Philippines. In turn, the government officials would be sworn in and become responsible for the public. In 2022, elections on all levels from barangay to national will be conducted. If you care about what’s happening in the country, especially right now that we’re in the middle of a pandemic, you would exercise your right to vote and elect officials who could lead the country and its citizens.
Q: When is the registration period?
The resumption of voter registration started on September 1, 2020. You can submit your application from Tuesday to Saturday, 8 AM to 3 PM.
However, areas still under Enhanced Community Quarantine (ECQ) or Modified ECQ will only start accepting applications once their status is downgraded to General Community Quarantine (GCQ) or Modified GCQ.
Likewise, the same applies in reverse. Should an area currently accepting voter registration applications be upgraded to ECQ or MECQ status, voter registration shall be temporarily suspended.
Q: Where do I need to go?
All applications for voter registration must be submitted at the Office of the Election Officer (OEO) or your local COMELEC office. For residents in the National Capital Region, if you’re not sure where your local COMELEC office, you can check here.
Q: What protocols are being implemented for the safety of everyone involved?
One of the biggest changes in this year’s voter registration is the addition of several health and safety protocols to ensure compliance with social distancing requirements and health standards.
Only a limited number of applicants will be allowed inside the COMELEC office at any given time. Each applicant is required to wear a face mask and a face shield before entering the premises. Alcohol and foot baths are available onsite, so you can sanitize your hands and shoes before entering. Strict BYOB is being implemented as well, so make sure to Bring Your Own Ballpen before you leave your house.
You are also required to accomplish a Health Declaration Form, which you can also download and print from their website.
Q: Is there an application form?
Yes, there is. You’d have to accomplish 3 copies for submission but don’t worry — it’s not too long. It’s only 2 pages, so you can do it in one sit-down. You can download the application form online and print it yourself.
Q: Do I need to bring any other documents?
New applicants and transferees will need to bring at least one valid ID to confirm their identities. Any of the following will do:
- Postal ID
- PWD discount ID
- Student’s ID
- Senior Citizen’s ID
- Driver’s License
- NBI Clearance
- SSS/GSIS ID
- IBP ID
- PRC License
- NCIP Certificate of Confirmation
If you’re changing something in your existing records — for example, you changed your name due to marriage — you would need to bring a few more documents:
- Certification by the solemnizing officer
- Marriage contract or court order with certificate of finality
- Order by the Civil Registrar or Consul General, depending on your case.
Q: Do I really have to be there myself? Or can I ask someone else to submit on my behalf?
No. You have to be present when submitting your application. COMELEC needs to take your photo and capture your biometrics to confirm your identity. You would also have to affix your signature on the application form in front of a COMELEC officer, so make sure that your copies of the form aren’t signed yet.
Senior citizens, persons with disabilities, pregnant women, and other vulnerable sectors will be served through an express lane.
Q: What if I’ll be out of the country during the elections anyway?
You should still register! Even if you’re abroad during the elections, you can still exercise your right to vote, so it’s better to be a registered voter by then.
If you’ll be in another country during the upcoming elections, you can register as an overseas voter at the Office for Overseas Voting (OFOV) at the Palacio del Gobernador Building in Intramuros, Manila. They accept applications strictly through appointment only, which you can schedule from Mondays to Thursdays, 8 AM to 4 PM. To book an appointment, send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org or send a message to their Facebook page. The same health and safety protocols apply.
What other questions do you have? Or have you already registered to vote? Tell us below!