Photo by Roy Lagarde
MANILA, Philippines - Assisted by her grandson, Eulalia Malon arrived at SM Manila at around 10:00 am on Monday, October 28, to cast her vote for the barangay elections.
“I’m having a hard time walking because my knee hurts. It’s a good thing they now have it here in the mall,” Malon said. “I never missed any election since 1958 except last May  because I can no longer go to the third floor of the school to vote,” she added.
At 75, Malon can hardly walk alone. Her health has deteriorated because of diabetes and high blood pressure.
The special voting center is one of 4 SM malls nationwide assigned by the Commission on Elections (Comelec) as pilot accessible polling areas for persons with disabilities (PWDs) and senior citizens. But since it's a pilot project, only a few were able to test it.
Of the 226 voters who agreed to vote in the special polling centers, majority of them were senior citizens. Only 4 PWDs voted in SM Cebu, 3 in SM General Santos, 3 in SM Lipa, and none in SM Manila, according to Comelec data.
Comelec chairman Sixto Brillantes Jr said the initiative is in preparation for the 2016 presidential elections.
“If this will turn successful, we are going to use this all throughout 2016 and adopt the same procedure,” he said.
Photo by Roy Lagarde
Majority of the senior citizens and PWDs nationwide still had to vote in regular precincts.
Brillantes said the common complaint is that senior citizens and PWDS have to go to higher floors to cast their votes.
“I hope that this will not happen again in 2016 because we are going to assign special polling centers for them,” he said.
At SM Manila, a medical team of doctors and nurses was also deployed in case of emergency. Security in and outside the mall was also tight.
“If we can do this on a nationwide scale, then elections would be okay at least for the senior citizens and PWDs,” Brillantes said.
“Remember that we are only using 4 SM malls. We can use other malls all over the country and places often visited by the people in 2016,” he said. - Rappler.com