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86 malls to serve 200K voters on Election Day, says Comelec

/ 09:20 PM March 19, 2016

CEBU CITY—At least 200,000 voters can enjoy the convenience of casting their ballots inside air-conditioned malls.

Commission on Election Chair Andres Bautista told reporters on Saturday night that the poll body allowed 86 malls all over the country to serve as voting precincts for the May 9 polls.

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He said the precincts inside the malls could accommodate 200,000 voters.

These malls include those in Cebu but Bautista could not specify which because he did not have the list with him when he held a news conference past 7 p.m. on Saturday at a restaurant in Cebu City.

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Bautista said the decision stemmed from the result of the consultation conducted in 120 towns all over the country.

Of the number, residents of 86 towns favored casting their votes inside malls while 34 were against the proposal.

Those who did not want to include malls as polling precincts said they were more comfortable casting their votes in their own locality while others feared the unfamiliar.

Bautista cited one case at the SM mall in Baguio City where voters did not agree to hold voting there since they had to go up the hill just to vote.

Voting, he said, would be done on May 9 and details of these precincts that were clustered in malls would be released in the coming days.

In the mall voting, persons with disabilities (PWDs) and senior citizens may be given a special lane instead of a separate polling precinct.

Meanwhile, Comelec is looking at holding the voting process at an earlier time following the decision of the Supreme Court (SC) that ordered the poll body to issue voter receipts.

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Bautista said they were doing ongoing consultation on field to determine if it was possible to open the polling precinct at 7 a.m. or at an earlier time.

“We’ll see whether we should extend it. I like the elections to happen on daylight,” he told reporters.

SC voted 13-0 and dismissed with finality the appeal of Comelec against issuing voter receipts.

This would mean additional hours in the voting process, which could delay the transmission of election results.

Bautista said they had ordered their warehouse in Sta. Rosa to start reconfiguring the SD cards and also started the bidding process for thermal papers, receptacles, and scissors that would be used for the printing of voter receipts.

Bautista said they saw the practicality of using scissors compared to the cutters since these were designed to cut only a few election returns and not voter receipts.

He said they needed P1.2 million to purchase the scissors at P10 to P12 each.

For the receptacles, Bautista said they had to get a new one since the previous ballot boxes could accommodate 600 voter receipts.

Comelec was also looking into the possibility of having a civil society group guard the receipt box since employing people to look after 92,509 clustered precincts all over the country would be costly.

Bautista also said there was not enough time to ask Congress to ask for a supplemental budget to cover the cost since the congressmen and senators were busy with their own campaign sorties.

“We have to make do with the budget that was given to us,” he said. RC

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TAGS: Comelec, Elections 2016, mall voting
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