Comelec

Comelec conducts voting simulation ahead of May 2022 elections

Vernise Tantuco
Comelec conducts voting simulation ahead of May 2022 elections

VOTING SIMULATION. Test voters fill in ballots at San Juan Elementary School on October 23, 2021.

Comelec/Facebook

(1st UPDATE) The voting simulation in San Juan gives the poll body an idea of what to expect on actual election day

The Commission on Elections (Comelec) on Saturday, October 23, held a voting simulation at San Juan Elementary School, ahead of the May 9, 2022 elections.

The simulation was conducted to identify “areas of concern” at poll precincts amid the COVID-19 pandemic. For 2022, the Comelec is seeking to reduce the number of voters per precinct to 800 from 1,000 in 2019.

During the Comelec’s midday briefing at 2 pm, Comelec Director Divine Blas-Perez said that 376 total registered voters have cast their votes as of 1:15 pm. Of this, 65 voters cast their votes in the emergency accessible polling place.

Comelec Spokesperson James Jimenez acknowledged that the simulation participants were low compared to the actual volume of the voters expected to go to polling places in May 2022, but he said that the point of the simulation is to check if the procedures work.

“One of the things that we must not lose sight of is that even though only few people came, the processes were orderly…. The next step is to find out if they will hold up under volume,” he said in a mix of English and Filipino.

He added that at this point, they really did not prioritize the volume of the people, rather they focused on the mechanisms they designed. “There will be other opportunities in the future to check volume,” he said.

In a video streamed live on the Comelec’s Facebook page, test voters could be seen wearing face masks and face shields while filling up ballots. The room in the video held a limited number of voters at a time, seated at separate, spaced out tables. Voters were filling up up ballots outside the classrooms as well.

Comelec officials and poll workers also wore face masks and shields, and were seated behind clear plastic barriers. Some poll workers, like those who assisted with feeding ballots into the vote counting machines, wore gloves. Classroom windows were open for air circulation.

Jimenez outlined the following process for test voters:

  • Once a voter enters the voting center, they will immediately proceed to a health screening station where their temperature is taken.
  • If his/her temperature is more than 37 degrees Celsius, the voter will be led to an “isolation polling place,” a voting area separate from the rest of the other areas.
  • If the voter has no health issues, s/he will go to the assistance desk to know his/her precinct number and sequence number.
  • Voters will go to either the polling place assigned to him/her or to the emergency accessible polling place (EACP) if s/he is a person with disability, a senior citizen, or a voter who needs assistance.

Jimenez said that the number of people at the precinct will affect waiting time, but added that the Comelec estimates 30 to 40 minutes waiting time for each voter.

The test ballots used for the simulation have all the basic features of a ballot, said Jimenez, but have made up names in place of candidates.

An October 21 advisory about the simulation said that seven classrooms at the venue will be used, with four serving as polling precincts and three as holding areas.

The Comelec is expecting 4,235 test voters on Saturday, but Jimenez said during the midday briefing that they will release the final numbers after the simulation ends around 4 pm. Comelec Director Teofisto Elnas said they are expecting around 60 to 70% voter turnout.

As of October 22, the Philippines has 66,838 active cases of COVID-19. – Rappler.com

Vernise Tantuco

Vernise Tantuco is on Rappler's Research Team, fact checking suspicious claims, wrangling data, and telling stories that need to be heard.