Nation


Election reform measures approved in Senate




Posted on November 13, 2012


ELECTION REFORM measures requiring biometrics registration and providing persons with disabilities and senior citizens with special polling places were yesterday approved by the Senate.

Voting 18-0, senators approved on third and final reading Senate Bill (SB) No. 1030 which seeks to require voters to enlist with the following biometrics data: photograph, fingerprint and signature.

"We can ensure that the automated fingerprint identification system… may be utilized to read the national voters registration of double or multiple registrants," Senator Aquilino D. L. Pimentel III, committee on electoral reforms and people’s participation chairman, has said in his sponsorship speech on SB 1030.

Under the proposed measure, voters who are deactivated from the Registration Record of Voters may apply for reactivation provided they undergo a validation process under Republic Act (RA) No. 8189.

RA 8189, the law on continuing registration, allows voters without biometrics data to update their records.

Deactivation is defined as the "temporary removal of a registered voter from the Registration Record of Voters for failure to appear before the appropriate Election Officer for validation despite notice," SB 1030 read.

Also approved with 17-0 votes was SB No. 3287 which requires the Commission on Elections (Comelec) to conduct satellite or special registration and shall designate polling places for persons with disabilities (PWDs) and senior citizens (SCs) in accessible places.

"The Constitution mandates for Congress to design a procedure for the disabled and the elderly to enable them to exercise their right to vote," Mr. Pimentel was quoted as saying in a separate statement.

"It shall be the duty of the Comelec to render appropriate assistance to PWDs and SCs in coordination with Government Agencies and Civil Society Organizations," SB 3287 read.

The Comelec under the bill is required to conduct satellite or special registration and shall designate polling places for PWDs and SCs in accessible places, which "shall be located at the ground floor, preferably near the entrance of the building, and is free of any physical barriers and provided with necessary services, including assistive devices."

SBs 1030 and 3287 will now undergo a bicameral conference committee with counterpart versions having been approved by the House of Representatives last year. -- Kathryn Mae P. Tubadeza