Comelec mulls more voting hours than days for 2022 election
MANILA, Philippines — The Commission on Elections (Comelec) is leaning towards conducting longer voting hours instead of allocating two to three days for the 2022 elections amid the pandemic, its spokesperson told senators Wednesday.
During a hearing of the Senate electoral reforms committee, Comelec spokesperson James Jimenez said the poll body is “wary” about having the next major election for two to three days.
“Medyo leery kami, medyo wary kami sa two to three days of election. The Comelec is actually tending towards longer election hours. Nakikita po natin sa ibang bansa, especially yung mga malalaking elections, they do have elections that last for up to 12 hours,” Jimenez said.
“The predisposition of Comelec right now is to go towards longer election hours and perhaps smaller precinct sizes. As far as the two to three days of elections…there’s been a lot of concern about that, there’s a lot of worry about what happens at night, I suppose,” he added.
Last September, Comelec Executive Director Bartolome Sinocruz Jr. told a House hearing that Comelec is looking into the possibility of conducting the 2022 polls for two to three days to regulate the number of voters going to polling precincts in the event that the COVID-19 pandemic still persists by then.
Senator Imee Marcos, chair of the Senate panel, expressed support for longer voting hours but suggested that it be combined with the expansion of those eligible for early voting.
In response, Jimenez said Marcos’ suggestion was a good idea, considering that early voting is limited to government officials and members of the media.
“Maganda po ‘yung early voting and right now the thinking is to give vulnerable sectors…We’re talking about senior citizens and perhaps persons with disabilities,” the Comelec spokesman said.
“The smaller populations of those particular sub-groups will make it relatively easy to conduct early voting for them,” he added.
Marcos also asked Jimenez about suggestions for mail-in early voting.
“While we’re willing to explore that possibility, the fact is, for mail voting to work, we really need the postal service,” Jimenez said.
“Comelec will take charge of the mail once it has been received by us, pero ‘yung process of getting it to us is something out of our control, so mas marami pong trabaho [It will require more work],” he added.
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