The Commission on elections (COMELEC) disclosed that Congress must pass the law mandating the conduct of early voting and the establishment of special polling centers for qualified members of the vulnerable sectors such as senior citizens, persons with disabilities, pregnant women among others.
Chairman George Erwin Garcia claim that while awaiting the enactment of the said law, the poll body is trying to study the possibility of allowing early voting for senior citizens specifically from 5 am to 7 am during the upcoming barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan (SK) elections on October 30, 2023 as part of the ongoing efforts to make it convenient for them to vote for their chosen candidates.
However, he proposed that Congress should also include in the law allowing the early voting and establishment of special polling centers for members of the vulnerable sectors the funds that will be needed for the same so that there will be np problem in the sourcing out of resources once it will be implemented during the upcoming barangay and SK elections or during the mid-term polls in May 2025.
The poll official said that the Comelec fully supports the proposed early voting and the establishment of special polling precincts for members of the vulnerable sectors to ensure their convenience during the casting votes and for them not to be exposed to the elements.
According to him, the Comelec is awaiting whatever action that will be taken by Congress in the passage of the proposed law although it might not be able to be enacted in time for the October barangay and SK elections.
Garcia explained that the poll body will be making the appropriate announcements on what will be the final decision on the proposed early voting and the establishment of polling precincts for members of the vulnerable sectors once the same will be final for the guidance of the concerned voters wanting to avail of the said privilege.
Based on existing laws, rules and regulations, the scheduled voting time during the October barangay and SK elections is from 7 am to 3 pm.
He stipulated that the poll body understands the predicament of the members of the vulnerable sectors for them to be given priority in the casting of votes on the day of the election considering their current status.
The proposed law allowing early voting and seeking the establishment of polling precincts for members of the vulnerable sectors is still pending in the House of Representatives awaiting its approval and transmission to the Senate for the passage of its counterpart bill before being submitted to the office of the President for the same to be signed into law.
Garcia said that poll officials are keeping their fingers crossed on the outcome of the law but what is important is that the Comelec is also looking into possibilities on how to grant the desire of the members of the vulnerable sectors for them to be prioritized in the casting of votes on the day of the election, especially in the upcoming October barangay and SK elections where the manner of voting will be done manually that will entail more time for them to write on the official ballot and drop the same on the ballot box in the various polling precincts nationwide.