Comelec OKs voting in 86 malls nationwide
CEBU CITY—Some 200,000 voters can enjoy the convenience of casting their votes in air-conditioned shopping malls.
Commission on Election (Comelec) Chair Andres Bautista told reporters on Saturday night that 86 malls all over the country had been authorized to serve as voting precincts for the May 9 balloting.
In recent consultations in 120 towns, 86 favored voting in malls while 34 others were against it. Those against said they were more comfortable voting in their hometowns.
He cited one case at 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.
The list of precincts in malls will be released shortly, Bautista said.
In the mall voting, persons with disabilities and senior citizens may be given a separate lane instead of a separate polling precinct for them.
Bautista also said the Comelec was looking at opening precincts earlier—7 a.m. or earlier—following the decision of the Supreme Court that ordered the poll body to issue voter receipts.
“We’ll see whether we should extend it. I like the elections to happen on daylight,” he told reporters.
The court voted 13-0 last week and dismissed with finality the appeal of the Comelec to forego issuing voter receipts.
Bautista said the ruling would mean additional voting hours, which could delay the transmission of election results.
He said the Comelec was now reconfiguring the SD cards and had also started the bidding process for thermal papers, receptacles and scissors that will be used for the printing of voter receipts.
He said the Comelec would need P1.2 million to purchase the scissors at P10 to P12 each.
Bautista said new receptacles also had to be purchased because the ballot boxes on hand could accommodate only 600 voter receipts.
The Comelec is also looking into the possibility of having a civil society group guard the receipt box since employing a person to look after it would be costly to cover the 92,509 clustered precincts all over the country.
Bautista said there was insufficient 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.