Early voting for seniors, PWDs in 2022 sought

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, September 27)— A lawmaker is pushing for the conduct of early voting for around 10 million senior citizens and persons with disabilities to ensure greater turnout in the 2022 national elections and to reduce health risks amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

““Mas makakabuti para sa ating mga seniors at PWDs na may hiwalay na araw ng pag boto para sa kanila. Napakahirap para sa kanila na pumila pa habang mainit at makipag-siksikan sa mga tao lalo na at may pandemiya pa,” Senator Sonny Angara said in a statement over the weekend.

Alam naman natin kung gaano kadelikado para sa mga may edad na ang COVID-19 na hanggang ngayon ay wala pang bakuna,” the lawmaker added, noting he plans to file a bill that would pave the way for early voting in 2022.

[Translation: It would be better for our seniors and PWDs if they have a separate day to vote. It would be hard for them to line up under the sun, in a crowded place especially since there’s still a pandemic. We know how dangerous COVID-19 is for the elders, as there is still no vaccine for it.]

The proposed move would also help expedite the queues at voting precincts, which in turn will allow more citizens to cast their ballots, Angara argued.

In line with this, the solon also urged the Commission on Elections to look into more accessible venues for the said sector, including gymnasiums or covered courts.

Angara said he will also recommend changes in voting hours— opening polls at an earlier hour or closing at a later hour— in a bid to accommodate more voters.

Issues on the conduct of the 2022 elections recently surfaced after a lawmaker, during a budget hearing in Congress, asked Comelec if there are plans to postpone it due to threat of the coronavirus.

Malacañang, however, rejected the scenario, citing provisions in the Constitution. Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said the country has “sufficient time to prepare,” adding that the global health crisis should not be used “as a ground to cancel and reschedule the elections.”

Under the law, the next general elections must be held on May 9, 2022, ahead of the end of President Rodrigo Duterte's six-year term by June 30 of that year.