Suffrage: Elections and Absentee Voting

I. What is right of suffrage? The Right of Suffrage (from the Latin word suffragium, meaning “vote”) is the right of the people to choose their officials as their representatives, for a definite and fixed period, to whom they entrust the exercise of the powers of government. This right, as conferred by the constitutional provision, “is not a natural right of the citizens, but a political right intended to enable them to participate in the process of government to assure it derives its powers from the consent of the governed. ” (Pungutan vs.Abubakar, L-33541, 20 June 1972).

II. Who may exercise the right of suffrage? Suffrage may be exercised by: 1. all citizens of the Philippines not otherwise disqualified by law and; 2. who are at least eighteen years of age and; 3. who shall have resided in the Philippines for at least one year and; 4. who shall have resided in the place wherein they propose to vote for at least six months immediately preceding the election. No literacy, property, or other substantive requirement shall be imposed on the exercise of suffrage. III. Elections.

An election is a decision-making process by which a population chooses an individual to hold formal office. This is the usual mechanism by which modern representative democracy fills offices in the executive and legislative branches of government, and could either be national or local level. Regular elections are those held regularly over a period of time as mandated by the Constitution. These are: 1. National Elections for: President and Vice-President, every 6 years. Senators, every 3 years. 2. Local Elections for: Members of House of Representatives, every 3 years.

Party List Representatives, every 3 years. Provincial, City and Municipal Officials, every 3 years. 3. Barangay Elections, every 3 years, synchronized with the SK elections 4. ARMM Elections, for Regional Governor, Regional Vice-Governor, and Regional Assemblymen for the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM), every 3 years 5. Sangguniang Kabataan (SK) Elections, every 3 years, synchronized with the barangay elections Special elections: 1. Plebiscite is the name given to a vote of the people expressing their choice for or against a proposed law or enactment submitted to them.

In the Philippines, the term is applied to an election at which any proposed amendment to, or revision of, the Constitution is submitted to the people for their ratification. 2. A referendum is the submission of a law passed by the national or local legislative body to the voting citizens for their ratification or rejection. Power of referendum is the right reserved to the people to adopt or reject any act or measure which had been passed by a legislative body, which would become a law without action on the part of the electors.

3. An initiative is the process whereby the people directly propose and enact laws. Amendments to the Constitution may likewise be directly proposed by the people through initiative. 4. Recall is a method by which a public officer may be removed from office during his tenure or before the expiration of his term by a vote of the people after registration of a petition signed by a required percentage of the qualified voters. IV. Absentee Voting and Voting Procedures for the disabled and illiterates.

As provided for in Article V of the 1987 Constitution, “The Congress shall provide a system for securing the secrecy and sanctity of the ballot as well as a system for absentee voting by qualified Filipinos abroad. The Congress shall also design a procedure for the disabled and the illiterates to vote without the assistance of other persons”. What is Absentee Voting? Absentee Voting as defined in Republic Act 9189 refers to the process by which qualified citizens of the Philippines abroad exercise their right to vote.

Who are qualified to participate in the Absentee Voting procedure? The following person(s) may vote for president, vice-president, senators and party-list representatives through absentee voting: 1. All citizens of the Philippines abroad, who are not otherwise disqualified by law; and 2. At least eighteen (18) years of age on the day of elections How can illiterate and disabled voters exercise the right to vote? As provided for in the Omnibus Election Code, Article XVII:

A voter who is illiterate or physically unable to prepare the ballot by himself may be assisted in the preparation of his ballot by: (a) A relative, by affinity or consanguinity within the fourth civil degree; or (b) By any person of his confidence who belong to the same household; or (c) Any member of the board of election inspectors, except the two party members Prohibitions: 1. No voter shall be allowed to vote as illiterate or physically disabled unless it is so indicated in his registration record; 2.

That in no case shall an assistor assist more than three times except the non-party members of the board of election inspectors. Duties of the chosen “assistant”: (a) The person chosen to assist shall prepare the ballot for the illiterate or disabled voter inside the voting booth. (b) The person assisting shall bind himself in a formal document under oath to fill out the ballot strictly in accordance with the instructions of the voter and not to reveal the contents of the ballot prepared by him.