Independence in Practice: A Guide to Elections and Voter Registration | Edukasyon.ph

Independence in Practice: A Guide to Elections and Voter Registration

Voting is one of the foundations of democracy. It’s one of your constitutional rights as a citizen of the Philippines, and it’s one of the ways you can make your future less scary.

Elections benefit the country, especially when we elect the right officials and leaders. You have a say in the direction of the Philippines or, closer to home, your city, municipality, province, or barangay.

Your voice is heard with your vote. That’s what people mean when they say “Every vote matters.”

What’s the difference between Presidential and Midterm elections?

There are different election seasons: The National (or Presidential) elections, Midterm elections (both National and Local), and finally the Barangay elections.

Presidential elections are held every 6 years. National and Local Elections are held on the second Monday of May, every 3 years from 1992. This National and Local Election season is also called the Midterm Elections because we’re voting for officials other than the president and vice president.

The Commission on Elections (COMELEC) oversees every election, making sure voting is free, fair, and honest.

Why do we vote every 3 years?

That’s because public officials have a term limit. In other words, that’s how long they stay in office before someone else needs to be elected. For the president, vice president, and senators, it’s 6 years. Congressmen (of the House of Representatives) and local government leaders, however, get 3 years.

Meanwhile, the Senate has 24 seats, and every 3 years, 12 seats are vacated. Midterm elections come in for us to elect 12 new senators, while the other half are still seated. The senators we vote during the midterm elections get to keep their seats during the first term of the next president.

Why is my senatorial vote relevant?

The senators you vote now get to lobby for and pass laws for causes you care about. They will also oversee the implementation and turnover of these laws to the succeeding president after this current term.

What positions do I vote for?

We’re not going to tell you who to vote, but these are the officials and roles that will show up on your ballots. Of course we have the president and vice president during every Presidential Election Season, but what about the rest?

A. National Elections: The Congress of the Philippines

Congress is the legislative branch of our government, meaning it has the power to enact, create, and modify, and appeal existing laws. More importantly, Congress is responsible for ensuring that the spirit of our Constitution is upheld in the country.

1. Senators (12) 

The Congress of the Philippines is divided into two houses. First, the Senate, composed of 24 seats, who are elected by qualified voters of the Philippines. Senators get 6-year terms and half of the Senate (12) is elected every 3 years.

2. Representatives (1).

The second house that makes up the Congress is the House of Representatives. A voter has two votes for the House of Representatives: one for their district representative and one for a sectoral representative (party-list). The congressman you vote for will represent your district when Congress is in session (e.g. when there’s a bill that needs to be passed). 

3. Party-list Representation (1).

As part of the Party-List System Act, 20% of the House of Representatives is given to representatives of marginalized and underrepresented sectors.  

B. Local Government

1. Provincial Governor (1). – Non-NCR 

The chief executive of the provincial government who is in charge of the general welfare of the locality and its inhabitants. Some of the provincial governor’s powers include: supervision of programs, enforcing laws, maximizing revenue as well as applying it to development plans.

2. Provincial Vice-Governor (1). – Non-NCR

The vice governor acts as a stand-in for the provincial governor in case of a temporary vacancy. They are also the Presiding Officer of the Sangguniang Panlalawigan (Provincial Board).

3. Municipal/City Mayor (1).

The municipal/city mayor is the chief executive of the city government who is responsible for the general welfare of the city and its inhabitants.

4. Municipal/City Vice-Mayor (1).

The vice mayor acts as a stand-in for the city mayor in case of a temporary vacancy. They are also the presiding officer of the Sangguniang Bayan.

5. Sangguniang Bayan (Municipal Board), Sangguniang Panlalawigan (Provincial Board), or Sangguniang Panlungsod (City Board).

The Sanggunian is the local board assigned to particular provinces, municipalities, or cities. This board is made up of members who pass or approve ordinances necessary for local government to stay effective. They’re in charge of approving funds, generating revenue, and issuing permits and licenses, and ensuring the general welfare of their area.

How do I vote wisely?

When coming up with your election checklist, it can get tricky to make the right choice. Do your research on the different candidates to see if they align with your values.

My Candidate Checklist: Competent (Kakayahan). Knowledge (Kaalaman). Credibility (Kredibilidad).

It helps to create a solid platform of the candidate to know if they’re competent, knowledgeable, and credible. Here’s a list of criteria to guide you in making your candidate list for this Philippine midterm elections.

  1. Look up their past accomplishments (if any).
  2. Educational background, work history, and leadership track record.
  3. What programs or policies have they proposed (if first time) or implemented (if recurring)?
  4. Do you align with their stand on certain issues (eg. RH Bill, Bangsamoro Basic Law, women and children’s rights, equality, environment, sustainability, etc.)?
  5. How is the candidate’s lifestyle?
  6. What can be said about their public record?
  7. Is the candidate compliant with our laws, policies, and other non-corrupt practices?

What should I do before election day? 

1. Register!

Elections are a while away from now, but it wouldn’t hurt to be ready to cast your vote when the time matters. Voter registration will resume this July!

If you’re a Filipino of legal age (at least 18 years old) before May 2022, then you’re eligible to register! Check out COMELEC’s primer for more details.

Don’t wait until the last moment to line up, because the lines tend to build up. Since safety is most important during these unprecedented times, it’s best you get ahead while there aren’t as many people registering yet.

2. Find your precinct.

There’s a Precinct Finder on the COMELEC website. If it’s down, dial the hotline (02) 526-7769 or get in touch with their email [email protected] or [email protected].

3. List down who you’re voting for.

Read up on all the candidates and party-lists. There are so many. Find out who aligns with your values. And write down their ballot numbers as well as their names. Especially the party-list.

4. Familiarize yourself with the ballot.

Just so you know what to shade and how to shade. There’s a long list of candidates so look up a ballot and get reading. COMELEC sends out an index of ballot templates for every district after the eligible candidates have been finalized.

What do I bring on election day?

1. A Valid Government ID

It should have your name, address, and signature. Valid IDs include: voter’s ID, Tax Identification Number (TIN) card, driver’s license, passport, Social Security System (SSS)/PhilHealth card.

2. Registration Stub
3. Final List of Candidates. 

When and where do I vote?

Election day is on May 13, 2019. Monday. Polls are open from 6:00 am to 6:00 pm. Voters within 30 meters of the polls at 6 pm will still be allowed to vote.

Find your precinct through the COMELEC website or reach them via their hotline (02) 526-7769.

What to do on election day?

1. Get to the polls on time.

If you don’t like lines, go early. Expect to wait, so don’t go too late in the day either. 

2. Identify yourself and get verified.

Find your name on the voter’s list posted at your precinct. Go to the designated COMELEC officer to verify that you’re a registered voter. Then they’ll show you which room you’ll go to vote.

3. Get your ballot.

Once verified, someone from COMELEC will give you a ballot, a pen, and a folder to hide your votes.

4. Choose your candidates. Do not vote over the maximum number.

If you’ve familiarized yourself with the ballot, it’s divided by positions up for election. You can vote under and abstain from electing the maximum number of candidates. However, voting for more than the maximum can invalidate your vote.

5. Shade properly!

Votes will not be counted if ballots are incorrectly filled. Do you solemnly swear to shade within the circle, the whole circle, and nothing but the circle? Any other marks on your ballot will invalidate your vote.

6. Cast your ballot (but don’t show anyone)!

When you’re done, keep your ballot in the folder given you. Proceed to the vote-counting machine and insert your ballot. Then wait for it to process and give your receipt.

7. Get your voter’s receipt and check for errors.

Voters aren’t allowed to leave without a receipt. Check if your receipt reflects who you voted for. If it doesn’t, you have to file a complaint. If all’s good, the clerk will ink your finger and you can head out.

8. Don’t snap any pics ‘til you’re out of the voting station.

Don’t jump on the indelible ink selfie bandwagon until you’re out of your precinct. Using your phone inside the voting station is an election offense.

Your voice matters

As a generation of young people, the future is yours. You have a bigger stake in it than the adults who are around now. Make yourself heard.

We’re here to help make the future less scary by helping you find opportunities, giving you personalized advice, and empowering you to pursue your path.

But only you can make that future real.

In-article graphics were provided by YouthVote Philippines and Bato Balani FoundationThis Edukasyon-created content is intended solely to inform and empower our readers. We are independent of any political influence or affiliation, but encourage eligible Filipino youth to perform their civic duties and exercise their right to vote.