BY SOPHIA DEDACE, GMANews.TV
09/25/2009 | 01:17 PM
| | More With only a month to go before the registration period for the 2010 elections ends, the number of names purged from the voters’ list is more than twice the number of new voters that have signed up so far, according to records obtained from the Commission on Elections (COMELEC).
As of July 2009, a total of 2.7 million new voters have signed up since the registration period started in December 2008, figures culled from Comelec records by GMA News Research show.
During the same period, however, the number of names that have been purged from the list of registered voters has reached 6.1 million. Most of them, or about 5.6 million, are Filipinos who did not vote in the last two elections.
James Jimenez, head of the poll body’s Education and Information Department, said the figures should not give the impression that there is a low turnout of new registrants because more voters have been stricken off the voters’ list.
“There is a misconception that there is a target that we’re trying to reach in terms of the number of new registrants. There is not,” Jimenez told GMANews.TV.
He said hundreds of new registrants have been trooping to Comelec offices in recent weeks to beat the October 31 deadline. For the 2010 elections, “We are looking at 46 to 47 million voters,” he said.
As of July 20, 2009, Comelec records showed that there are 45,487,634 registered voters in the country. Deactivated and canceled voters are not included in the list.
According to the Commission on Population, there were 88.57 million Filipinos as of August 1, 2007.
For the 2007 polls, records show that 6.4 million potential voters did not register at all. Of this number, 832,000 came from the youth sector and 624,000 did not know that they had to register before voting.
Cleansing of voters’ list
Jimenez said the cleansing of the voters’ list is a continuing project of the Comelec to ensure that “suspicious” names and those ineligible to vote cannot participate in the electoral process.
The Comelec lists the following factors as causes for removal from the voters’ list:
Sentence by final judgment to imprisonment of not less than a year
Sentence by final judgment of crimes involving disloyalty to the duly constituted government or any crime against national security
Declared by competent authority to be insane or incompetent
Failure to vote in two successive preceding regular elections
Loss of Filipino citizenship
Excluded per court order
Transfer to another municipality
Voters who failed to vote in the past two elections are only deactivated and can register again.
Asked whether the public should be alarmed with the large number of voters whose names have been removed from the list, Jimenez said that it is not a “cause for worry.”
He said the mass cleansing of the voters’ list is a necessary step in ensuring clean and honest elections, and should not be linked to the number of new registrants.
“Voter cleansing and voter registration are two different matters. The right to register to vote is a choice, but cleaning the voters’ list is a must,” Jimenez said. – with GMA NEWS RESEARCH, GMANews.TV