Election Offenses on Registration of Voters

Election Laws,Primers April 19, 2013 8:42 PM

Preliminaries on Candidacy

What is registration?

Registration refers to the act of accomplishing and filing a sworn application for registration by a qualified voter before the election officer of the city or municipality wherein he resides and including the same in the book of registered voters upon approval by the election registration board. 1

Why must a person register first before exercising the right to vote?

Registration determines who are qualified to vote. It serves to regulate the exercise of the right to vote. 2 Section 115 of the Omnibus Election Code provides that “in order that a qualified elector may vote in any election, plebiscite or referendum, he must be registered in the permanent list of voters for the city or municipality in which he resides.” Likewise, Section 10 of the Voter’s Registration Act provides that to be able to vote in any election, qualified voter shall be registered in the permanent list of voters in a precinct of the city or municipality wherein he resides.

The Supreme Court has held that registration is essential to the exercise of the right of suffrage. It is part and parcel of the right to vote and an indispensable element in the election process. 3 The requirement of registration cannot be regarded as adding a new qualification to those prescribed by the constitution, but only as reasonable and convenient regulation of the mode of exercising the right to vote. The constitution, by carefully prescribing the qualifications of voters, necessarily requires that an examination of the claims of persons to vote must at some time be had by those who are to decide on them. 4

What are the requirements in order to register as a voter?

  1. Citizen of the Philippines, not otherwise disqualified by law;

  2. At least 18 years of age;

  3. Resident of the Philippines for one year; and

  4. Resident of the city or municipality wherein he proposes to vote for at least six months immediately preceding the election.

Any person who temporarily resides in another city, municipality or country solely by reason of his occupation, profession, employment in private or public service, educational activities, work in the military or naval reservations within the Philippines, service in the Armed Forces of the Philippines, the National Police Forces, or confinement or detention in government institutions in accordance with law, shall not be deemed to have lost his original residence.

Any person who, on the day of registration may not have reached the required age or period of residence but who on the day of the election hall possess such qualification, may register as a voter. 5

Who are disqualified from registering?

Any person who has been sentenced by final judgment to suffer imprisonment for not less than one year, such disability not having been removed  by plenary pardon or granted amnesty. Such person however shall automatically reacquire the right to vote upon expiration of five years after service of sentence;

Any person who has been adjudged by final judgment by competent court  or tribunal of having committed any crime involving disloyalty to the duly constituted government such as rebellion, sedition, violation of the firearms laws, or any crime against national security, unless resorted to his full civil and political rights. (such person) shall regain his right to vote automatically upon expiration of five years after service of sentence; and

Insane or incompetent persons as declared by competent authority unless subsequently declared by proper authority that such person is no longer insane or incompetent. 6

When does registration of voters take place?

In the system of continuing registration of voters, the personal filing of application of registration of voters shall be counted daily in the office of the Election officer during regular office hours. No registration, however, be conducted during the period starting one hundred twenty (120) days before a regular election and ninety (90) days before a special election. 7

Where should a qualified voted register?

The qualified voter should register in the office of the Election Officer 8 of the city or municipality wherein he resides. 9

Who acts on all application for registration?

The Election Registration Board is the body which acts on all applications for registration 10 The board shall be composed of the Election officer as chairman and as members, the public school official most senior in rank and the local civil registrar, or if absent, the city or municipal treasurer. 11 

How does a person register as a voter?

To register as a voter, (any person) shall personally accomplish an application form for registration as prescribed by the COMELEC in three copies before the Election officer on any date during office hours after having acquired the qualifications of a voter.

The application shall contain the following data:

  • Name, surname, middle name, and/ or maternal surname;

  • Sex

  • Date and place of birth;

  • Citizenship;

  • Civil status, if married, name of spouse;

  • Profession occupation or work;

  • Periods of residence in the Philippines and in the place or registration;

  • Exact address with the name of the street and house number for location in the precinct maps maintained by the local office of the commission or in case there is none, a brief description of the residence, sitio and barangay;

  • A statement that the applicant possesses all the qualifications of a voter;

  • A statement that the applicant is not a registered voter of any precinct and

  • Such other information or data which may be required by the commission.

The application for registration shall also contain three specimen signature of the applicant, clear and legible rolled prints of his left and right hand thumbprints, with 4 identification size copies of is latest photograph attached thereto, to be taken at the expense of the omission.

Before the applicant accomplishes his application for registration, the election officer shall inform him of the qualifications and disqualifications prescribed by law for a voter, and thereafter, see to it that the accomplished application contains all the data therein required and that the applicant’s specimen signatures, fingerprints, and photographs and properly affixed in all copies of the voter’s application. 12

How shall an illiterate and physically disabled qualified voter register?

Any illiterate person may register with the assistance of the following:

  • Election Officer; or

  • Any member of an accredited Citizen’s arms

The Election Officer shall place such illiterate person under oath, ask him the questions, and record the answers given in order to accomplish the application form in the presence of the majority of the members of the board. The election officer or any member of an accredited citizen’s arm shall read the accomplished form aloud to the person assisted and ask him if the information given is true and correct. The accomplished form shall be subscribed by the applicant in the presence of the Board by means of thumb mark or some other customary mark and it shall be subscribed and attested by the majority of the members of the board.

The attestation shall state the following:

  • Name of the person assisted;

  • The name of the Election Officer or the member of the accredited citizen’s arm who assisted the applicant;

  • The fact that the Election officer placed the applicant under oath, that the Election Officer or the members of the accredited citizen’s arm who assisted the applicant read the accomplished  form to the person assisted, and that the person assisted affirmed its truth and accuracy, by placing his thumb maker or some other customary mark on the application in the presence of the board.

The application for registration of a physically disabled person may be prepared by the following:

  • Any relative within the fourth civil degree of consanguinity or affinity; or

  • Election officer; or

  • Any member of an accredited citizen’s arm using the data supplied by the applicant

The fact of illiteracy of disability shall be so indicated in the application. 13 

What law should govern the registration of overseas absentee voters?

Republic Act No. 9189 or the “Overseas Absentee Voting Act of 2003” governs the registration of an overseas absentee voter. It provides for the disqualification 14 of voting, requirements or registration 15, and procedure for registration. 16

 

Election Offenses on Candidacy

Registration by a Qualified Voter

Is failure without just cause to register as a voter an election offense?

No. Section 261 (y) (1) of the Omnibus Election Code punishes “any person who, having all the qualifications and none of the disqualifications of a voter, fails without justifiable excuse to register as a voter in an election, plebiscite or referendum in which he is a qualified to vote.” 17 However, the 1987 constitution does not include the provisions of the 1973 constitution (Article V, Section 2) which reads: “It shall be the obligation of every citizen qualified to vote to register and provides in its repealing clause that the provisions on failure to register and to vote under section 261, par. (y) sub-paragraph no.1 and paragraph (z), sub-paragraph no.1 of the Omnibus Election Code and repealed. 18

What are the requirements on the preparation of the voter’s affidavit of “illiterate or disabled applicants?”

By virtue of Section 262 of the Omnibus Election Code, the violation of the pertinent requirements for the preparation of the voter’s affidavit of “illiterate or disabled applicants” shall be considered as an election offense:

  • Persons who may prepare the voter’s affidavit of an illiterate or physically disabled person:

  • Any relative within the fourth civil degree of consanguinity of affinity or

  • Any member of the board of election inspectors

  • Such persons shall prepare the affidavit in accordance with the data supplied by the applicant. 19

Under the Voter’s Registration Act of 1996, the following can assist an illiterate or disabled person in registering as voter:

Any illiterate person may register with the assistance of the following:

  • Election officer; or

  • Any member of an accredited citizen’s arms

The application for registration of a physically disabled person may be prepared by the following:

  • Any relative within the fourth civil degree of consanguinity or affinity; or

  • Election officer; or

  • Any member of an accredited citizen’s arm using the data supplied by the applicant 20

 

Acts which Obstruct the Registration of Another

What constitutes “threats, intimidation, terrorism, use of fraudulent device or other forms of coercion?”

  • That the offender is any person;

  • That the offender directly or indirectly

    • threatens, intimidates or actually causes, inflicts or produces any violence, injury, punishment, damage, loss or disadvantage upon any person or persons or that of the immediate members of his family, his honor or property, or

    • uses any fraudulent device or scheme

    • that the purpose to compel or induce the registration or refraining from registration of any voter, or the participation in a campaign or refraining or desistance from any campaign, or the casting of any vote or omission to vote, or any promise of such registration, campaign, vote, or omission therefrom. 21

What are the requirements of the offense of “delay or obstruction of registration of another”?

  • That the offender is any person; and

  • That such person delays, hinders, or obstruct another from registering. 22

 

Punishable Acts Committed by the Registrant

What are the elements of the offense of making a “false or untruthful statement of date or information required in application for registration”?

The offense can be committed by:

  • Any person;

  • That such person knowingly makes any false or untruthful statement

  • That the false or untruthful statement was relative to any of the data or information required in the application for registration. 23

How can the offense of “blurring or tampering of fingerprints on application for registration or voter’s affidavit” be committed?

The offense of  blurring or tampering of fingerprints on application for registration or voter’s affidavit” is committed in three ways:

  • Blurring or tampering of fingerprints on application for registration or voter’s affidavit by any person

  • Causing or allowing of imprinting of blurred or indistinct fingerprints by a person in charge of voters’ registration; and

  • Tampering of fingerprints

The elements of the offense when committed by “blurring or tampering of fingerprints on application for registration or voter’s affidavit by any person” are the following:

  • That the offender is any person;

  • That the offender imprints or causes the imprinting or blurred or indistinct fingerprints on any of the copies of the application for registration or on the voter’s affidavit; and

  • That the act was committed deliberately

The elements of the offense “causing or allowing of imprinting of blurred or indistinct fingerprints by a person in charge of voters’ registration” are the following:

  • That the offender s any person in charge of the registration of voters; and

  • That the offender, deliberately or through negligence, causes or allows the imprinting of blurred or indistinct fingerprints on any of the aforementioned registration forms

The elements of the offense of “tampering of fingerprints” are the following:

  • That the offender is any person; and

  • That the offender tampers with the fingerprints in said registration records. 24

How is the offense of “double or multiple registrations” committed?

  • The offender is a registered voter; and

  • Such offender registers anew without filing an application for cancellation of his previous registration. 25

 

Punishable Acts Committed by Another on the Registration of a Qualified Voter

What are the elements of registration in substitution for another?

  • That the offender is any person; and

  • That the offender registers in substitution for another whether with or without the latter’s knowledge or consent. 26

What are the elements of “tampering of voter’s application for registration?

  • That the offender is any person; and

  • That the offender tampers with or changes without authority any data or entry in any voter’s application for registration 27

What are the elements of the offense of “false certification or identification of another as bona fide resident of a particular place?

  • That the offender is any person;

  • That such offender falsely certifies or identifies another as a bona fide resident of a particular place or locality; and

  • That the act was committed for the purpose of securing the latter’s registration as a voter. 28

What constitutes the offense of “use of voter’s affidavit of another for the purpose of voting?

  • That the offender is any person;

  • that such person uses the voter’s affidavit of another; and

  • That the act was committed for the purpose of voting, whether or not he actually succeeds in voting. 29

What are the components of the offense of “asking, demanding, taking, accepting or possessing a voter’s to influence such other’s vote?

  • That the offender is any person;

  • That the offender asks, demands, takes, accepts or possesses, directly or indirectly, the voter’s affidavit or another; and

  • That the act was committed in order to induce the latter to withhold his vote, or to vote for or against any candidate in an election or any issue in a plebiscite or referendum. 30

Such intent is presumed prima facie if the asking, demanding, taking, accepting or possessing is done within the period beginning ten days before lection day and ending ten days after election, day unless the voter’s affidavit of another and the latter are both members of the same family. 31

What are the elements of “delivery or acceptance of voter’s affidavit of another in consideration of money, benefit or promises?

  • That the offender is any person;

  • That such person

    • delivers, hands over, entrusts, gives, directly or indirectly his voter’s affidavit to another in consideration of money or other benefit or promises thereof, or

    • takes or accepts such voter’s affidavit directly

    • or indirectly, by giving or causing the giving of money or other benefit or making or causing  the making of a promise thereof. 32

What are the elements of the offense of “giving (a person’s) voter’s identification card to another; or taking such voter’s identification card in consideration of money or other benefit or promise?

The said offense can be committed in two ways: (1) by giving and (2) by taking or accepting such voter’s identification card.

The elements of giving (a person’s) voter’s identification card to another are:

  • That the offender delivers, hands over entrusts or gives, directly or indirectly his voter’s identification card to another

  • That such is in consideration of money or other benefit or promise

The elements of “taking or accepting such voter’s identification card” are:

  • That the offender gives or causes the giving of money or other benefit or makes or causes the making of a promise

  • That the act is in consideration of the delivery, handing over entrusting, and giving of another person’s voter’s identification card 33

Notes:

  1. An Act Providing for a General Registration of Voters, Adopting a System of Continuing Registration, Prescribing the Procedures thereof and authorizing the appropriation of funds therefore. [THE VOTER’S REGISTRATION ACT OF 1996] Republic Act no. 8189, Section 3(a) (1996)
  2. Hector S. de Leon & Hector M. de Leon, Jr., The Law in Public Officers and Election Law 527 (2003)
  3. Id. Citing Aporadera v. Sotto, 3 SCRA 626 (1961); Akbayan v. COMELEC, 355 SCRA 318 (2001)
  4. Id. 527-529, citing F. Mechem, A Treatise on the Law of Public Offices and Officers, p 82 (1890)
  5. The Voter’s Registration Act of 1886 Section 9
  6. Id Section 11
  7.  Id. Section 8
  8. Id
  9. Id. Section 10
  10. Id. 3 (g)
  11. Id. Section 15
  12. Id. Section 10
  13. Id. Section 14
  14. An Act providing for a system of overseas absentee voting by qualified citizens of the Philippines abroad, appropriating funds therefore and for other purposes (The Overseas Absentee Voting Act of 2003), Republic Act No. 9189, Section 5 (2003)
  15. Id. Section 8
  16. Id. Section 6
  17. De Leon & De Leon, Jr., supra note 2, at 839
  18. Enabling Act for the Elections for Members of Congress on May 11, 1987, and for other purposes, Executive Order no. 134, Sec, 17 (1987)
  19. Omnibus Election Code of the Philippines, Batas Pambansa Blg. 881, Sec 127 (1985)
  20. The Voter’s Registration Act of 1996, Section 14
  21. Omnibus Election Code of the Philippines, Section 261 (e)
  22. Id. Sec. 261 (y) (8)
  23. Id. Section 261 (y) (2)
  24.  Id. Section 261 (y) (3)
  25. Id. Section 261 (y) (5)
  26. Id. Sec, 261 (y) (6)
  27. Id. Sec, 261 (y) (7)
  28. Id. Sec, 261 (y) (9)
  29. Id. Sec, 261 (y) (10)
  30. Id. Sec, 261 (y) (13)
  31. Id
  32.  Section 261 (y) (14)
  33. The Voter’s Registration Act of 1996, Section 45 (a)

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