By Amber Gabrielle Fokno
As the Philippines prepares for next year’s national elections, are you getting yourself ready too? It is our right and responsibility, as citizens of this nation, to cast our votes for the sake of each other and our homeland.
The first step of getting yourself ready to vote is to make sure you’re a registered voter. There is a common misconception that registering to vote is a hassle. However, registering yourself to be a voter is not as complicated as it seems. In my experience of doing this, I was in and out of the La Trinidad COMELEC in around 20 minutes (although it depends on how many people are there at the same time as you are).
Before you go to your local COMELEC, check on your city/municipality’s COMELEC Facebook page if they require you to make an appointment or if they accept walk-ins. On the day of your registration, make sure you’ve got everything you need. Any valid ID, your own pen, alcohol, a face shield, and your mask (who could forget?). Once you’re there, all you have to do is fill up a few forms and have your biometrics taken. Don’t worry about any fees because you don’t have to spend on registration. Then just like that, you’re a registered voter!
If you think you’re not eligible to register yet because you aren’t 18 years of age, you can still become a registered voter as long as you turn 18 on or before May 9, 2022, which is the day of the national elections.
Some people refuse to vote, let alone register, because of the “my vote won’t make a difference anyway” notion But every vote counts. The right to vote is a part of the foundation of democracy. Practicing that right, on the other hand, is crucial to the country’s function and keeping democracy in place.
But why exactly should we register to vote and practice our right to suffrage?
Voting and the results of an election dictate what’s to become of our nation, which most, if not all, of us will be a part of. To add to that, the effects of who we vote for do not go away after their six-year term. They last long term and will still affect the coming generations. When we vote, we vote for the good of the present and the future.
Elections don’t just revolve around who wins and who loses. Who we put into power plays a role in dealing with issues such as employment, our welfare, and the proper use of taxes, among other pressing matters. When we vote, we also vote for better healthcare and education, as those who get elected decide on what to do with these aspects of our country. Refusing to vote is turning your back against the possibility of a greater way of life.
Our votes act as our voice because we vote for what we believe in and stand for. If we want what we stand for to prevail in the country, we must do our part to ensure it goes that way. We do that simply by participating in the national, as well as local, elections.
Around the world, there have been cases of close election results, and a low voter turnout wouldn’t help the case. This is where you and your vote come in. Your vote is so much bigger and important than you think, as it can make or break the decisions after elections. The future depends on you casting your ballot.
We’ve heard ourselves and others complain or make remarks about our government. We desire a positive change for the country, but we won’t get what we want unless we do something for development to push through. One of the least things we can do for this is to vote. It would be hypocritical for one to complain about the government but not involve themselves in activities that contribute to building a better system in the country.
Is voting a right or responsibility? The answer is both. Under a democratic country, voting is seen as a right because it’s the freedom of the people to choose who to elect into power. It is also a responsibility because it is our role as citizens to uphold democracy, which we do by participating in the elections through voting.
Registering to vote is far from being labeled as a complicated process, with people only having to show up to their local COMELEC and filling up a few forms. Voting is a right and responsibility that we need to practice if we want to see a change in this country. From healthcare to the use of taxes, that all depends on us and our decisions in next year’s elections.
Voter registration ends on September 30, 2021. If you haven’t registered yet, you’ve still got time! Encourage your friends and family to register as well. Hope to see you in Halalan 2022!
Don’t let that registration go to waste! A single vote is powerful enough to paint a brighter tomorrow for you and me.