Elderly, PWDs support mall voting initiative
Senior citizens and people with disabilities (PWDs) on Friday expressed their support for mall voting but also aired some concerns during the public hearing held by the Commission on Elections (Comelec) on the initiative on Friday.
Among the matters raised were the proximity of malls where they will be assigned to vote to their homes, the availability of transportation and the presence of interpreters in mall voting centers.
“The general feeling of PWDs is that they are in favor of having this mall voting but some of them still have concerns,” said retired Navy Capt. Oscar Taleon, president of the Alyansa ng mga May Kapansanang Pinoy (Akap-Pinoy) at the public hearing.
Taleon said most of their members were concerned about the distance of the mall from their places of residence and that since mall voting was relatively new to them, some might get confused as to where they should cast their ballots on Election Day.
“Because not all know about this, some of us might go to the mall or to their former voting places,” said Taleon.
Carolyn Dagani, president of the Philippine Federation of the Deaf, also asked Comelec officials if the poll body would provide interpreters at mall voting centers to assist the deaf and the mute.
Comelec chair Andres Bautista yesterday allayed their fears reiterating that only precincts near participating shopping malls would be included in the initiative and that all mall-based voting centers would have designated booths customized for PWDs, particularly those wheelchair-bound.
He also said the Comelec would hire interpreters who will be designated in accessible polling places and mall voting centers.
Accessible polling places refer to PWDs and senior citizens’ existing precinct assignments but the voting area will be designated at the ground floor of the voting center.
As for transportation, Bautista said the Comelec would coordinate with the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority and the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board for shuttles that could bring PWDs and senior citizen voters to and from the mall voting centers.
“But we have to make sure that the transportation will be provided by an apolitical group,” he said.
In presenting the Comelec’s case of mall voting, Bautista said the poor voting conditions observed in 2013 prompted them to push for such initiative.
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