In keeping up with the times given the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic, voter registration must also shift to online or digital modes as far as practicable, according to Senator Joel Villanueva.

Villanueva explained that Senate Bill No. 1516, which he had filed recently, paves the way for the Commission on Elections (COMELEC) to allow the registration of voters through the development of an automated, online system, which will also minimize the risk of spreading the disease.

“It will also help improve the data-keeping efforts of the commission.”

“As part of our adjustment to the times, the Comelec should be given an option to conduct the voter registration through electronic means. Not only does it make it more convenient for people to register, it will also help improve the data-keeping efforts of the commission,” the veteran legislator said.

“This further increases the possibility of higher voter participation in the elections.”

“This further increases the possibility of higher voter participation in the elections because there is nothing healthier for a democratic state than to have citizens who are informed, actively participating in its democratic processes, and truly engaged in charting the course of its destiny,” the seasoned lawmaker added.

The Comelec should “as far as practicable, adopt, design, and use an automated and online system for voter registration that enables the electronic and online filing and processing of the application for voter registration, transfer of registration, reactivation, correction of voter registration entries, and such other requests and processes relative to the voter’s registration and records,” stated the bill.

The bill is among the proposed measures being tackled by the Senate Committee on Electoral Reforms.

But if the immediate implementation of the automated, online system could not be done in the short-term, the bill allows the adoption of an online application verification system where prospective voters would submit their requirements online.

After reviewing, the Comelec could either prompt the prospective voter to submit additional requirements or issue other steps necessary for the completion of the application, according to the measure.

The proposed measure serves as an alternative procedure to personal filings as the threat of the COVID-19 persists, according to the senator.

“We must adjust to the times that we have. Creating an online platform will help lighten the burden of Comelec to process applications manually, and our people can be a registered voter right in the comfort and safety of our homes,” Villanueva concluded.

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