NANCY FEARS DISENFRANCHISEMENT FOR FIRST TIME VOTERS

With only a couple days left before the 2019 Midterm Elections on Monday, the Commission on Elections' precinct finder has yet to be activated.

This, Senator Nancy Binay fears, could lead to first-time voters being disenfranchised because they still do not know where to cast their vote.

"Karamihan sa mga first-time voters ay millennials at di sila pamilyar sa manu-manong sistema ng paghahanap ng mga presinto nila. For the past two national elections, Comelec's online precinct finder used to be the fastest, easiest and most convenient way of checking where your precinct is. Dahil down ang Precinct Finder website, malaki ang posibilidad na maraming first-time voters ang hindi makakaboto sa Lunes," Binay said.

Binay expressed dismay that Comelec failed to prioritize its reactivation after the "Comeleak" hacking incident in 2016 forced the poll body to shut down the website.

While the Comelec has announced that voters may inquire about their precincts by sending direct messages to their Twitter account, such mechanism is inefficient, and Binay doubted whether they would be able to properly respond to all requests.

"Bukod pa rito, hindi naman lahat ng tao may Twitter account. Paano kung may isang libong first-time voters sa isang clustered precinct, sigurado ba ang Comelec na lahat yun may Twitter?" she added.

Another option suggested by the Comelec is to personally visit local Comelec offices or schools identified to be used during the elections, but this alternative would meanwhile inconvenience the voters and add further tasks to these areas which are expected to be busy in the run-up to the polls, Binay also said.

"It would have been more efficient and convenient had the Comelec focused on producing a more secure online facility," the reelectionist senator added.

According to Comelec, about 2.5 million had registered during the last voter registration period that ended September last year, most of whom belong to the youth sector.

"Hindi acceptable na balik tayo sa Jurassic na sistema at naging paurong tayo. Kaya nga tayo nagpapakilala ng mga bagong teknolohiya ay para gawing mas maayos ang sistema," Binay said.

She nevertheless expressed

hope that the poll body would activate the precinct finder during the weekend to give first-time voters the opportunity to check the location of their polling places.

Source: Senate of the Philippines