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Comelec: Mall voting won’t push through

/ 10:12 AM April 27, 2016
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Commission on Elections Chair Andres Bautista tries out a countingmachine stored in
a Comelec warehouse in Sta. Rosa, Laguna province, during a walk-through. NIÑO JESUS ORBETA/ INQUIRER FILE PHOTO

The Commission on Elections (Comelec) has junked the proposal to transfer some precincts into malls for the May 9 national and local elections, reversing its earlier March 10 ruling.

In an interview which aired on radio dzBB on Wednesday, Comelec chairman Andres Bautista said that in a 4-3 vote, the en banc decided to not push through with the proposed mall voting.

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“Kahapon, kami’y nagkabotohan at from 6-1 naging 4-3. Sinasabi ngayon not to proceed with mall voting,” Bautista was quoted as saying.

(Yesterday, we voted, and from 6-1, it became 4-3. That tells us now not to proceed with mall voting.)

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In a separate interview, Bautista explained how the commissioners decided on junking the mall voting.

“The interpretation is whether or not the approval and the transfer should have happened 45 days before the elections. What we discussed was the approval happened on March 10 which was 60 days before the elections but the other [commissioners] were saying that the precincts should have been transferred already to the malls. But when you come to think of it, the transfer happens on Election Day itself,” he said on ANC.

“We have to move on,” he added.

The elections chief said that with the en banc’s decision, the Comelec will have to notify voters whose precincts were transferred to malls to return to their regular precincts.

“Many were already excited about voting in malls but now we have to undo it. If this is the decision, we have to live with it,” Bautista said.

He also apologized to those who backed the proposal yet vowed that the Comelec will try again in the 2019 election.

“I really want to apologize to the voters who supported this innovation especially our senior citizens and PWDs. The mall voting would have been easier for them to exercise their right to suffrage. This is an idea whose time has not yet come and we’ll try again in 2019,” he said.

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READ: Voting in the malls: Why not? says Comelec

In a minute resolution last March 10, the en banc voted 6-1 to approve mall voting.

A total of 231, 174 voters from 1,592 precincts were supposed to cast their votes in 80 malls nationwide.

Comelec earlier projected that the mall voting was supposed to benefit 876 PWDs and 28,136 senior citizens.

Commissioners Rowena Guanzon and Christian Robert Lim have opposed the measure, saying that it will constitute a violation of the Omnibus Election Code which bars the transfer of polling precincts 45 days before the elections.

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TAGS: Andres Bautista, Commission on Elections (Comelec), Elections 2016, elections featured, mall voting, Omnibus Election Code, precinct
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