GENERAL SANTOS CITY – The number of registered voters here has increased by around 20,000 since the start of the registration last year for the May 2022 elections, an official of the Commission on Elections (Comelec) here said.
Lawyer Jay Gerada, Comelec supervisor for South Cotabato and this city, said Tuesday the registered regular voters in the city’s 26 barangays already reached 321,000 based on the records of the area’s Election Registration Board.
He said it slightly increased from the 301,106 eligible voters in the 2019 local and national midterm elections.
“We still expect the number to increase in the coming months as we continue with the regular voter’s registration,” he said in the “question hour” during the city council’s regular session on Tuesday.
He assured that all new applications are properly scrutinized by their personnel and undergo assessments by the ERB to prevent errors, duplication and multiple registrations.
Gerada appealed to residents, especially those who will be 18 years old by May next year, to register early and not wait for the deadline in September.
He acknowledged that the current figures are quite lower than the expected turnout due to the continuing coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) pandemic.
Election offices in this city and in South Cotabato only cater 60 to 70 registrants a day due to the implementation of the minimum health protocols, especially the observance of safe physical distancing, he said.
“But we’re foreseeing that if we will not openly campaign for early participation, there will be overcrowding of registrants towards the (September) deadline,” he said.
Gerada said they will increase by an additional one hour starting next week the acceptance and processing of applications for voter’s registration.
He said they earlier set the registration time from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. to give enough time for their personnel to complete the processing and encoding to their system.
Aside from the extension until 4 p.m., he said they will also start to accept registrations on Saturdays based on a directive from their central office.
“We’re hoping that the public will positively respond to these adjustments. We made the same extensions before, especially during weekends, but no one was showing up in our offices,” he said. (PNA)