Guide to voting in 2022 polls amid COVID pandemic
MANILA, Philippines—At exactly two months and four weeks from today, the fate of candidates for national and local posts will be decided by over 65 million Filipinos who are expected to cast their votes on May 9.
According to the official tally of the Commission on Elections (Comelec), 65,745,529 Filipinos are registered to vote in the country for the 2022 National and Local Elections (NLE).
The figures were 3,901,758 more than the 61,843,771 registered for the 2019 mid-term elections, and 21,195,681 more than the 54,363,844 total registered voters for the 2016 NLE.
Over half or 52 percent—around 32.2 million—of the total registered voters this year are between ages 31-59 years old, while 33 percent or 20.4 million are around 19-30 years old.
Around 14 percent, or 9.1 million, of the total voters are 60 years old and above.
Most of the registered voters for this year’s elections came from CALABARZON (Cavite, Laguna, Batangas, Rizal, Quezon), with over 9 million registered voters.
It was followed by Metro Manila with 7,322,361 and Central Luzon with 7,289,791 voters.
— James Jimenez (@jabjimenez) December 18, 2021
The poll body has also recorded around 1.8 million overseas voters from the Asia and the Pacific region, Europe, the Middle East and Africas, and North and Latin America.
The COVID-19 pandemic, caused by the virus SARS-CoV-2, has impacted the upcoming polls, resulting in some changes in the election-related policies and the step-by-step voting process.
Compared to the previous elections, this year, the poll body had to formulate a slightly different voting process and consider the health and safety of the voters, the Electoral Board, poll volunteers, and the people inside and near the vicinities of voting centers.
To prevent the spread of COVID-19 on election day, which will be held from 6 AM to 7 PM on May 9, standard health and safety protocols are required.
These include temperature checks, physical distancing, wearing of face masks at all times, and frequent disinfection of the hands as well as frequently touched surfaces.
According to the Comelec guidelines, the step-by-step voting process is as follows:
- Voters must have their temperature checked before entering voting centers.
- Voters will then proceed to the Voters’ Assistance Desk (VAD) to secure their precinct and sequence numbers and assigned room or clustered precinct.
- After the second step, voters can now go to their assigned room and state their name, precinct, and sequence numbers to the Electoral Board.
- Voters will then be given their ballot, ballot secrecy folder, and marking pen.
- After receiving the said items, voters can proceed to the voting area where they can fill out the ballot by fully shading the oval appearing before the name of the candidate they wish to vote for.
- After accomplishing the ballot, the voters will be asked to feed the ballot into the Vote Counting Machine (VCM).
- The voters may check their voter’s receipt and then deposit it in the receptacle.
- Lastly, the right forefinger nail of the voters will be stained with indelible ink.
Aside from following and maintaining the standard health and safety protocols at all times, the poll body reminded voters to not over-vote.
Voting for more than the maximum number of candidates allowed would invalidate their vote.
Other reminders from the previous elections, which can still be applied this year despite changes made due to the pandemic, include:
- Use only the official marker given by the Board of Election Inspectors.
- Do not fold, crumple, or tear the ballots.
- Do not take pictures of the accomplished or filled-out ballots.
- Do not keep or take pictures of voters’ receipts.
According to Comelec, there will be 37,141 voting centers scattered across the country. It has also established 412,876 polling precincts but grouped some of them so there would be 106,174 clustered precincts.
Registered voters overseas have four methods or options to cast their votes in the coming polls, according to Comelec Minute Resolution No. 21-1431.
The specific modes of overseas voting for the 2022 NLE include:
Postal mode of voting—Automated election system (AES) mode of counting: Voters will mail their ballots to their voting posts. Comelec-designated officials will feed the ballots into VCMs.
Postal mode of voting—Manual mode of counting: Voters will mail their ballots to their voting posts. Votes will be counted manually by Comelec-designated officials.
Personal mode of voting—AES mode of counting: Voters will go to their voting posts and personally cast their ballots. Comelec-designated officials will then feed the ballots into VCMs.
Personal mode of voting—Manual mode of counting: Voters will go to their voting posts and personally cast their ballots. Votes will be counted manually by Comelec-designated officials.
In Asia and the Pacific region, there are a total of 22 posts with postal-AES modes of voting, 17 posts with postal-manual votes of voting, seven posts with personal-AES modes of voting, and nine posts with personal-manual modes of voting.
In Europe, there are a total of 15 posts with postal-AES modes of voting, 54 posts with postal-manual votes of voting, three posts with personal-AES modes of voting, and two posts with personal-manual modes of voting.
In the Middle Eastern regions and the Africas, there is one post with postal-AES modes of voting, 42 posts with postal-manual modes of voting, 13 posts with personal-AES modes of voting, and nine posts with personal-manual modes of voting.
In North and Latin America, there are 43 posts with postal-AES modes of voting, 23 posts with postal-manual modes of voting, one post with personal-manual modes of voting.
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