No to Disenfranchisement in 2007: Youth Organizations Relaunch the First Time Voters Project

18 09 2006

FTV launching Press Release

No to Disenfranchisement in 2007:

Youth Organizations Relaunch the First Time Voters Project

Different organizations from schools and communities in Metro Manila today relaunches in a music-caravan the “First Time Voters Project Registration Campaign”. Young people ages 17-21 years old, in their motorcycles and cars with loud music, hop around university areas to inform fellow first time voters of the ongoing registration and the need for young people to be active in the coming elections.

Young people comprise the majority of the voting population. For young people ages 18-24 alone, the projected voting population of the National Statistics Office in 2004 is 11 million. First time voters include those 18 to 21 years old who have not yet participated in the elections of 2004 and those 21 years old and above who have failed to register in the last elections. Each new voter, a Filipino citizen ages 18 years old in the day of the elections need to register as a pre-requisite in voting.

According to the group, 5 million and 2 million first time voters were disenfranchised in the elections of 2001 and 2004 respectively due to insufficient information for new registrants. “Our numbers show how crucial we are in the next elections. We would like to ensure that we will not have yet another case of millions of first time voters not having their chance to cast their first vote in 2007,” says Student Council Alliance of the Philippines NCR and Project Spokesperson Bianca Lapuz.

Earlier this month, the Social Weather Stations released their survey conducted in June 2006 that three-fourths (76%) of the 18-24 years old unregistered voters say they are unaware of the continuing voters registration.

The First Time Voters Project started as a national campaign in 2001 of youth organizations like Movement for the Advancement of Student Power, Student Council Alliance of the Philippines, Akbayan Youth and ALYANSA to extend registration for millions of first time voters who did not meet the registration deadline. Hurdles in the registration of 2001 and 2004, according to then Project Coordinator Marie Chris Cabreros, include lack of information, inaccessibility of registration venues, and differences in requirements for different areas especially for urban poor youth.

Aside from the concern on the registration, the First Time Voters Project is a platform for new voters to put their stake and agenda for 2007. “The lessons of 2001 and 2004 and the current traditional political landscape gave us basis to be pro-active in encouraging fellow youth to participate and not allow ourselves be muted in the electoral exercise that is very crucial in the coming months. If first time voters unite under a platform and choose better leaders that will transform the deteriorating situation that our country now is in, then we ensure the future we deserve,” says Lapuz.

The group hops in the University Belt, Taft Avenue, Intramuros, Aurora-Cubao and Katipunan conducting a program, playing music and giving out fliers on the registration information. The First Time Voters Project after in Metro Manila will be reluanched also in Cebu, Bacolod, Ilo-Ilo, Dumaguete City, Bohol, Davao, Zamboanga, Cagayan de Oro and Angeles City.

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