THE Commission on Elections (Comelec) has noted a significant increase in the number of voters in the city.

From Dec. 2 last year to April 20, some 16 thousand people registered as new voters here, said city elections officer Stalin Baguio.

This brings the number of voters in the city’s two districts to some 236 thousand. Comelec is expecting a 10 percent increase of new voters every election.

Baguio said the new voters’ ages range from 18 to 30.

The registration of new voters started last year and is ongoing. The registration will end in October.

Baguio said he was happy with the turnout and attributed the dramatic increase in the number of voters to the ongoing information campaign being carried out by the elections commission.

He said many of those who eagerly wait in line in the ongoing registration are young people.

‘‘This indicates awareness on the part of the youth sector,’’ said Baguio.

The ongoing registration of voters is being done at the Comelec office on Burgos St.. Registration is also being done in the barangay level.

In a related development, the Comelec said it would be conducting public consultations to know the people’s opinion on what type of ballots the election body should produce.

Comelec spokesman James Jimenez said the consultations would be started next month so that officials would know on how to go about the production of the ballots.

“We are hoping to hold consultations with various key public sectors to give them a first look at the ballot to make sure that the ballots are user-friendly,” he said.

The Comelec official said the commission was looking for ways on how the public would be more comfortable in handling the ballot since this would be the first time for Filipinos to vote in automated elections.

“We don’t want to give them too difficult a time to vote,” Jimenez said.

For the elections next year, voters would be using ballots that are electronically read by the Precinct Count Optical Scan (PCOS) system.

Under the AES, the approximately two-foot ballot would feature all the names of the candidates with oval areas beside each of them, where voters are supposed to shade their choice candidates.

In the past elections in the country, the standard ballot size is just over 12 inches with blank lines provided, where the voters will write the names of the candidates.

Jimenez said one of the major concerns in the ballot design is the font size of the names of candidates.

“If the fonts are too small, then we are going to have problems especially with the elderly. So, we will be holding focus group discussions to determine what is the best configuration for the ballots,” he said.

Jimenez added that they still need to discuss if they are going to place pictures of candidates beside their names since it might compromise further the size of the ballots.

“We will still see. I would not say that it’s out definitely but we will see what happens,” he explained.

It would be recalled that pictures of the candidates were placed beside their names in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (Armm) elections last year.

Jimenez said, “It was easier to do because of the small race. But now, it might not be as easy” as it involves many candidates from national to local positions.

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