By Vince Alvic A. F. Nonato, Reporter

SWS: Only 3 in 4 adults eligible to vote in 2016

Posted on September 14, 2015

MANY FILIPINOS remain at risk of disenfranchisement for the 2016 elections, as the Social Weather Stations’ (SWS) new report showed only three in four adults are eligible to vote as of the second quarter of 2015, with barely any increase in the proportion of registered voters who have been validated during the period.

Results of a June 5-8 poll among 1,200 adults nationwide showed 76% were registered voters who have submitted for validation by having their biometric data digitally recorded. This figure is equivalent to an estimated 46.6 million individuals.

This was unchanged from the 75% logged in March 2015, although 13 points higher than the 63% recorded in December 2014.

The same June poll showed 16% of respondents, equivalent to 9.7 million, were registered voters who have not been validated. This is unchanged from 17% in March 2015, but 14 points lower than the 30% in December 2014.

Pursuant to Republic Act No. 10367, Comelec Resolution No. 9721 required voters to be validated through biometric registration the digital recording of photographs, fingerprints and signatures, among others.

Voters who fail to submit for validation will be deactivated for the May 2016 elections. But despite the risk of disenfranchisement, the SWS poll showed no change in the validation trend, less than five months before the Oct. 31 deadline.

Meanwhile, the proportion of adults who were not registered at all remained steady at 8%, or an estimated 4.7 million, for June 2015, March 2015 and December 2014.

The proportion of registered voters who are yet to be validated was highest in the National Capital Region at 27%. Respondents in other areas of the country were less at risk of losing their eligibility to vote: Balance Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao each recorded 16%, 17% and 7% in June.

The survey showed 20% of respondents from Classes A, B and C were registered voters who are not yet validated, compared to 17% for Class D and 9% for Class E. Unlike compliance with the validation rule, the proportion of unregistered voters was somewhat consistent across regions or economic classes.

Participation among the youngest eligible age brackets was more tepid, however. Among respondents aged 18-24, only 59% were registered voters who have been validated. 14% were registered voters who were not validated, and a whopping 28% are yet to be registered as voters to begin with.

It also showed 76%-82% of older respondents were eligible and validated voters, with 14%-18% not having availed of validation while 3%-7% were not registered to vote.

The non-commissioned survey was conducted via face-to-face interviews of 1,200 adults nationwide, consisting of 300 each in Metro Manila, Balance Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao. It employs sampling error margins of 3 points for national percentages and 6 points each for Metro Manila, Balance Luzon, the Visayas and Mindanao.

Commission on Elections (Comelec) Chairman Andres D. Bautista, however, said “this survey does not seem to jibe with our figures.”

Disputing the 9.6-million estimate by the SWS for the second quarter, he said in a text message on Sunday that as of July 31, the number of voters without biometrics was 3.2 million, down from the 9.6 million recorded in May 2014.

He told reporters last month the figure was 4.3 million in April.

Still, political analyst Ramon B. Casiple, executive director of the Consortium on Electoral Reforms, said the new validation requirement “may” have dampened voters’ interest.

“But the more believable factor is that many are not aware or do not have the capacity to go anymore to the Comelec, for one reason or another,” Mr. Casiple said in a text message, also noting voters’ tendency to register or be validated at the last minute.

He added “there is a significant number who does not have a high level of interest in voting, maybe due to lack of desirable candidates.”

Comelec Resolution No. 9981 fixed the election’s registration and validation deadline on Oct. 31.

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