Hundreds of voters line up for last day of registration

LAOAG CITY, October 31 (PIA) – As expected, voters have been flooding the Commission on Elections office the past three days to beat the deadline of registration.

Lawyer John Paul Martin, Laoag City Election Officer, said long lines have been the usual site since Monday as voters, mainly first time registrants and those seeking to transfer venue, availed of the last days of registration.

“Today’s scene is an exact opposite of early registration days. Nilalangaw kami nuong kakaumpisa ang registration (our office was empty during the early days of registration),” he said.

Martin said voters began trickling in only on October 8 with a daily average of 200 registrants. The figure increased to 412 beginning October 29 and continued rising until the last day with an expected turn out of more than 500.

Based on Comelec records, registered voters for Laoag as of October 31 has reached 74, 149 with some 4,214 applicants still to be approved. The figure is higher than the total registered voters in 2010 with only 71,000.

Martin said fewer residents were lining up in Comelec offices compared to the previous registration period because of off-site registration in villages.

Comelec personnel implemented mobile registration in far-flung villages to ensure that residents will enlist for the 2013 elections.

“This off-site registration contributed to the shortening of lines before our office,” he said.

The Comelec has also deleted voters who have failed to vote twice, those who have died and those considered as multiple registrants.

Martin said registrants are only allowed to register until 3 pm today in line with a new Comelec guideline issued today.

“Beyond 3 pm, no one will be allowed to line up. We will cut the line at 3pm so that by the time the clock winds down to 5pm, our offices will be closed,” he said.

Martin said the new guideline is designed to avoid extending office hours to accommodate last-minute registrants.

“We have given voters sufficient time to register from April 1 last year to today from Monday to Saturday including holidays. There should be no reason to complain that they were deprived of their right to register and to exercise their right to vote,” he said (PIA 1 Ilocos Norte)