Legal advocacy group Initiatives for Dialogue and Empowerment through Alternative Legal Services (IDEALS Inc.) urged the Commission on Elections (COMELEC) that inclusivity should be promoted in the online voter's registration by expanding the list of valid proofs of residence.
IDEALS had the privilege of being invited by the House of Representatives’ Committee on Suffrage and Electoral Reforms to participate in its Technical Working Group (TWG) to provide insights and opinion on bills amending certain provisions of the voter’s registration act.
The TWG discussed HB 69 on requiring the presentation of proof of residence for the purpose of voters registration and removing from the Voter’s Registration Act the provision on disenfranchising registered voters who failed to vote in two succeeding regular elections; HB 578 on strengthening the procedure for registration of voters during barangay elections, HB 7063 on adopting a system of online registration of voters; HB 7411 on Authorizing the Commission on Elections (COMELEC) to use and implement an automated and online system for voter registration, and HB 7746 on creating an electronic voters registration system.
The TWG participants uniformly supported the adoption of an online system of voter registration, but exhaustively discussed the subject of requiring additional proof of residence in voter registration. At the TWG sessions, IDEALS voiced out its insight and suggested that COMELEC should strengthen its vetting process although inclusivity should be promoted in the law by expanding the list of valid proofs of residence. IDEALS also submitted its Position Paper to the TWG, which the latter considered when it crafted the substitute bill consolidating the proposed measures.
When the substitute bill was submitted to the Committee on Suffrage and Electoral Reforms, it received a 5-4 vote in favor of its submission to the plenary. Notwithstanding the division of the Committee members insofar as particular provisions are concerned, they nonetheless agreed that a system making voter registration available online is important in light of the global health crisis and the upcoming 2022 elections.