MANILA, Philippines – The Commission on Elections (Comelec) is looking into the possibility of allowing vulnerable sectors to vote one or two hours earlier on election day on October 30, when the country selects its new set of barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan leaders.
“I’m proposing to the en banc that we conduct a pilot test of early voting hours for senior citizens, PWDs (persons with disabilities), pregnant women, and even indigenous peoples in Luzon, Visayas, Mindanao, and National Capital Region,” Comelec Chairman George Garcia said in a press conference on the first day of the poll body’s election summit on Wednesday, March 8.
“This means if the voting will start at 7 am, maybe we can convince teachers to open the polls at 5 am for them,” he explained.
Garcia thinks the setup would be advantageous to teachers who will have to serve fewer voters later in the day as a result, although he acknowledged it would mean that poll workers would have to wake up and prepare for the polls earlier on election day.
The Comelec said the suggestion was put forward in the absence of a law that allows vulnerable sectors to cast their ballots at least a week early.
Bills on the matter are still pending with the House electoral reforms panel under the 19th Congress. The lower chamber in the 18th Congress already passed such a measure, but the Senate at the time sat on the proposal.
House electoral reforms panel chair Maximo Dalog Jr. said the early voting bill “would most likely” be signed into law under the Marcos administration.
The next round of barangay elections has long been delayed. It was supposed to be conducted in May 2020, but was postponed to December 2022, and then moved again to its current schedule in October 2023.
The barangay polls will be manual, although the Comelec will conduct a pilot test of automating the voting process in select areas. – Rappler.com
* Quotes in Filipino were translated into English, and some were shortened for brevity.
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