Business Mirror: Comelec rules out early voting for the elderly, PWD

1 September 2021

By SAMUEL MEDENILLA | Business Mirror

THE Commission on Elections cannot afford the proposed early voting for senior citizens and persons with disabilities in the 2022 National and Local Election (NLE) due to logistical and budgetary issues.

In an online briefing, Comelec spokesperson James Jimenez noted that allowing early voting for both sectors will require them to hold two elections of national scope.

“The explanation there is that voting centers will open a week before [the date of the regular elections] for seniors and PWDs, then presumably a week later, it will open for everyone else,” Jimenez said.

He noted that given the decision of the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) to reduce the Comelec’s proposed 2022 budget from P42 billion budget to P26.5 billion, they will have fewer resources to use for the conduct of the 2022 NLE.

“We are avoiding multiple [election] days since we will have to spend a large amount for the honoraria [of the electoral boards],” Jimenez said.

Instead of the early voting, Jimenez said they may consider including senior citizens and PWDs among groups covered by the local absentee voting (LAV) scheme.

Under the LAV, select sectors such as the media, government workers, and uniformed personnel will be allowed to cast their votes ahead of Election Day.

The LAV is considered cheaper to conduct than an early voting option since its participants will be allowed to vote only in designated voting centers and they can only vote for candidates for national positions.

MECQ voter registration

On another matter, Jimenez said the Comelec en banc finally approved the resumption of voter registration in areas under modified enhanced community quarantine (MECQ).

He said the registration in MECQ areas will start on September 6, 2021 from 8 am to 5 p.m.

“In-mall voter registration will be allowed [in MECQ area],” Jimenez said.

Prior to the new Comelec en banc policy, voter registration could only be held in areas under general community quarantine (GCQ) and modified GCQ (MGCQ).

Several groups urged Comelec to allow voter registration in MECQ amid the looming deadline for the activity on September 30, 2021.