May 10 polls still not foolproof vs multiple registrants

May 10 polls still not foolproof vs multiple registrants
By Lynda Jumilla

MANILA, Philippines – In a well-secured corner in the Commission on Elections’ (Comelec) information technology department lies the core of the poll body’s efforts to cleanse the voters list.

Costing P1.6 billion and provided by NEC of Japan, the Automated Fingerprint Identification System (AFIS) is the latest technology in obtaining, storing, and analyzing fingerprint data.

In a country where double or even multiple registrants are part and parcel of elections, AFIS couldn’t have been more welcome.

“On-going ang paggamit ng AFIS, but it will take time because pag-compare po ng voters’ registration record sa ibang voters registration takes some time, hindi madali yan,” says Comelec Commissioner Gregorio Larrazabal.

The AFIS has so far caught 250,000 multiple registrants since it was put to use.

These are people who registered more than once, using different names, birthdays, addresses and other identification details,

Take the case of one man, who we won’t name, from a Mindanao province known for multiple registrants.

In his second registration, he gave a different name, a different birthday, and even struck a different photographic pose. But his fingerprints in both registrations gave him away.

Comelec has high hopes the AFIS would result in a fully cleansed voter’s list.

Only, it won’t happen in the May 10 elections because not all 50 million voters have fingerprint records with the Comelec.

“About 32 million registered voters, may biometrics,” says Larrazabal. “Yung iba po, wala po silang biometrics, but pagkatapos po ng eleksyon, we will try our best to encourage as many voters to validate their registration.”

The remaining 18 million who have no fingerprint records are those who registered from 1997 to 2003.

Before Comelec implemented the biometrics system of registration, Comelec asked Congress for a law requiring voters to validate their registration by submitting to a fingerprint scan, but it was rebuffed by congressmen.

So for now, Comelec will issue a watch list and keep a close eye on multiple registrants to make sure they only vote once.

Karen Ang

A plebeian who is trying to make small changes in this world.