The Manila Times – Comelec mulls extended voting period for 2022 polls

By Divina Nova Joy Dela Cruz | The Manila Times

THE Commission on Elections (Comelec) is considering extending the voting period for the 2022 national elections, its spokesman James Jimenez said on Tuesday.

Jimenez said that the Comelec is considering administrative solutions to decongest voters in poll places such as modifying the voting period into a multiple day system. The poll body is looking into the possibility of extending the voting period for up to three days or longer voting hours for 12 hours to 16 hours on May 9, 2022, he said.

“Both approaches are still being studied by the commission in terms of legal feasibility and doability,” he said in a virtual forum organized by Stratbase ADR Institute, in partnership with the Ateneo School of Government and Democracy Watch Philippines.

Jimenez added that Comelec is also looking at the possibility of setting up more polling stations and redesigning them to be safe against Covid transmission.

The Comelec projects a total of 62 million to 63 million voters in 2022.

Jimenez said that the commission is also considering the online filing of Certificates of Candidacy and changes in the campaign events that usually attract large crowds.

“COC filing has to be retold and reimagined in very significant ways. Obviously campaigning is going to be a potential (Covid-19) super spreader. The way we do campaigning in the Philippines always involves huge crowds, huge motorcades, huge pictures of people standing shoulder to shoulder, breathing each other’s faces to say the least,” he said.

“It’s a very perilous time for everyone and it’s in this context that we’re going to have to hold elections because make no mistake about it, Comelec is not backing down from the need to hold the elections as scheduled by the Constitution,” he said.

Projecting a continuing pandemic scenario until 2022, Jimenez said that this is the primary consideration of the poll body’s preparations.

“This is the kind of situation that we’re entering into, that the elections are going to be held in. And we expect that this will continue, that these conditions will persist until 2022. There’s not going to be an easy fix, any major shift in the way things are from how there are now so that’s what all of our planning is focused on,” he said.

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