By JOVEE MARIE DE LA CRUZ | Business Mirror
The House of Representatives has recently approved on second reading a bill allowing early voting for millions of senior citizens and persons with disability (PWDs) in national and local elections.
Deputy Speaker Rufus Rodriguez of Cagayan de Oro City, one of the authors of the bill, said House Bill 9562 would give affected voters the opportunity to exercise their right of suffrage, beginning with the May 2022 combined presidential-congressional local polls.
He said lawmakers are expected to pass the measure on third and final reading when session resumes after the implementation of the enhanced community quarantine.
Under the bill, the Commission of Elections (Comelec) is mandated to schedule voting for senior citizens and PWDs in establishments accessible to them within seven days before the date of the elections.
The poll body is to conduct nationwide registration for the affected voters to qualify them for early voting. Those who fail to register will vote on Election Day.
It would also be tasked to launch an information campaign for early voting for qualified registered voters. Comelec is to issue implementing rules and regulations within 90 days from the date the proposed law takes effect.
Funds for the implementation of the proposed early voting law would be initially charged against the Comelec budget and thereafter included in the annual appropriations bill.
“It would also ease congestion in voting precincts on Election Day, especially at this time of pandemic, and will lessen the possibility of virus transmission,” he said.
It would, likewise, give Comelec more time to process ballots, he said.
Rodriguez added that early voting is already allowed for certain individuals like teachers who serve in the Board of Election Inspectors in polling precincts.