Sunday, March 3, 2024

Bill institutionalizing online registration of voters passes final reading

A measure seeking to institutionalize the online registration of voters and strengthen the voter registration process as a whole has been passed on third and final reading in the House of Representatives.

Image from Freepik.com

Approved on the strength of 307 affirmative votes against one during nominal voting on Monday, March 6, was House Bill (HB) No. 7241.

The bill amends Sections 2, 3, 8, 9, 10, 12, 13, 22, 23, 24, 29, 32, 33, and 45 of Republic Act (RA) No.8189, otherwise known as the “Voter’s Registration Act of 1996”.

Speaker Ferdinand Martin G. Romualdez, one of the principal authors, said “the proposed statute aims to encourage a system of registration that ensures and guarantees a clean, complete, permanent, and updated list of voters.”

Romualdez said it aims to encourage and ensure a continuing system of voter registration, the state shall adopt and make use of technologies that shall facilitate and allow the automated and online registration of voters as an option, taking into account the integrity, completeness, and accuracy of the list of voters.

Under what would be the amended language of RA No.8189, a qualified voter shall be registered in the permanent list of voters in a precinct of the city or municipality where the voter resides to be able to vote in any election.

To register as a voter, the applicant shall personally or electronically accomplish an application form for registration as prescribed by the Commission on Elections (Comelec) and personally submit the accomplished form to the office of the election officer of the city or municipality where the voter resides on any date during office hours, or through the official website of the Comelec.

“The application for registration may be submitted personally or electronically and shall be processed in accordance with Republic Act No.10367, titled ‘An Act providing for mandatory biometrics voter registration’ at the expense of the Commission,” it added.

It further said that before the applicant accomplishes the application for registration, the Election Officer shall inform the applicant of the qualifications and disqualifications prescribed by law for a voter, and thereafter, see to it that the accomplished application contains all the data therein required and that the applicant’s specimen signatures, fingerprints, and photographs are properly affixed in the voter’s application.

“In case of online submission or application for registration by an applicant, the Commission shall send a notice confirming its receipt of the application and provide instructions on how the applicant may check the status of the application,” the amended RA No. 8189 read.

For voters who will change their residence to another barangay, they may apply with the Election Officer of the city or municipality in which the voter’s new residence is located for the transfer of the voter’s registration records.

“No transfer of a voter’s registration to another barangay shall be allowed within 120 days before a regular election and 90 days before a special election,” the bill said.

It further said that any voter who has changed address which shall not fall under a change in barangay as provided for under Section 12 of this Act shall immediately notify the Election Officer in writing.

“If the change of address involves a change in the precinct, the Board shall transfer the registration record to the book of voters of the new precinct and notify the voter of the new precinct. All changes of address shall be reported to the office of the provincial election supervisor and the Commission in Manila,” it added.

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