DAVAO CITY (MindaNews/27 February) – The Commission on Elections’ website, www.comelec.gov.ph , has an icon on the right column (Online Precinct Finder) that you click on to find your voting precinct anywhere in the country (am not sure if it includes data for those registered abroad).
I used the Precinct Finder in past elections and I had no problems at all, so here I was Friday night telling my mother I’d show her, after dinner, how to look for her precinct online (of course she knows where it is, physically, but not online).
“I might just discover I have been disenfranchised,” my mother, who has been displaying her choice of opposition Presidential and Vice presidential candidates on our gate for months now, said, laughing.
Her laughter was cut short. The result of our search for her name showed this note, in red ink: “Your registration details cannot be found in the COMELEC database. Please make sure that you have entered the correct details.”
Oh, we were sure we entered the correct details. And my mother has not missed an election since the Snap Elections of February 7, 1986, so she couldn’t have been delisted.
Nonetheless, we entered her name again. And got the same result again.
Then we tried my eldest sister’s. The same result. We entered the name of another sister. Same result. My name. Same result. My brothers’ names. Same results. The names of the wives of my brothers. Same results. The names of my nieces, including one registered in Quezon City (most of us are registered in Davao City). Same results.
I tried the name of my mother’s sister in a neighboring city, and it yielded a positive result. I tried the name of a friend who I knew was voting for an Opposition presidential bet and it yielded negative results. I tried the name of a friend who was voting for the Administration’s presidential bet and it yielded a positive result. Coincidence?
I tried another friend’s name and the results said: “Your registration record has been deactivated. A deactivated registration status means that you cannot exercise your right to vote this coming elections.”
The Comelec’s Precinct Finder says “If you think your registration record should be active, and this SEARCH facility gives you a negative result, please verify with the local Comelec Office where you are registered. You may also send an e-mail to the regional office or provincial office which has jurisdiction over your city/municipality of registration. Click the Search button to try again.”
Above the results there is a DISCLAIMER that says “Data is based on the submissions of our field election offices after the 16 November 2009 ERB hearing. If you applied for registration last December 21, 22, 23, 28 and 29, 2009 your record is not yet included here.”
“Pending submission of data from the concerned COMELEC field offices, data from certain cities/municipalities are also not available for searching purposes at the moment. For further inquiries or clarifications, please contact your local COMELEC office.”
If there was anyone whose name may not be there, that would have been me. Because I usually cover elections outside my base in Davao City, I may have been delisted. But I went to the People’s Park in Davao City for a special registration on September 21 and the Comelec employee asked me to fill up a form for revalidation. (September 21 is exactly three months before December 21 so the records should have been posted by the field offices already, right? Between September 21 and now is already five months. The field office has not transmitted the records?)
Still, for the sake of argument: if there was one name in our family that could have possibly a yielded negative result, that could have been mine. But the entire family? None of us can vote? That’s at the very least, 10 votes?
Like a good citizen, I followed instructions and e-mailed the regional director (today being a Saturday). I have yet to receive an answer as of 5 p.m.
So can our family vote?
Meanwhile, here’s an unsolicited advice: go surf the Precinct Finder, too.
Like us, you might just find you’re not a voter after all.(MindaViews is the opinion section of MindaNews. You can email Carolyn O. Arguillas at [email protected])