House OKs early voting bill for PWDs, seniors, healthcare workers, lawyers on 3rd reading
MANILA, Philippines — Senior citizens, persons with disabilities (PWDs), healthcare workers and lawyers may soon be allowed to vote earlier than the rest of the population after a bill on the matter was approved by the House of Representatives on the third and final reading.
House Bill (HB) No. 7576 was approved during Monday’s session after 259 lawmakers voted in the affirmative, while none abstained or voted against the same.
The bill allows the seniors and PWDs to vote ahead of time so that they can avoid long queues because of their physical and health conditions.
“In consideration of their respective physical and health conditions, senior citizens and PWDs shall be allowed to vote early in national and local elections. Similarly, in consideration of the necessity of providing professional services and ensuring the health and safety of the populace during election day, lawyers and human resources for health, respectively, shall be allowed to vote early in national and local elections,” Section 2 of HB No. 7576 said.
If the bill is signed into law, those seeking to avail of the early voting benefits would be asked to register during a prescribed period.
The Commission on Elections (Comelec) would be asked to keep a record of eligible individuals.
The Comelec would also be asked to design a registration system in coordination with several other agencies, and start an information campaign regarding the benefits should the bill be enacted.
“(The [Comelec] shall) Design a registration system, in coordination with local government units, the National Council on Disability Affairs, the Commission on Human Rights, the Office of the Bar Confidant of the Supreme Court, the Integrated Bar of the Philippines, the Department of Health, and the Department of the Interior and Local Government for senior citizens, PWDs, lawyers, and human resources for health in order to facilitate their early voting,” the bill read.
This is not the first time that the House sought for the early voting of PWDs and seniors.
Last August 2021, the House approved a similar bill, but it was not deliberated further due to time constraints due to the 2022 national elections.
No less than Comelec Chairman George Garcia has pushed for the proposal, saying that it is part of the aspiration for easier voting processes in the country.
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