Bill seeks to allow seniors to vote by mail to prevent 'disenfranchisement' amid pandemic


Posted at Sep 02 2020 06:27 PM

Bill seeks to allow seniors to vote by mail to prevent 'disenfranchisement' amid pandemic 1
A companion fans a senior citizen voter as they wait for their turn to walk up to their precincts at the Rosauro Almario Elementary School in Tondo Manila, May 14, 2018. Jonathan Cellona, ABS-CBN News

MANILA — A lawmaker from the House of Representatives filed Wednesday a bill that would allow senior citizens to vote through the mail amid the uncertainty brought by the COVID-19 pandemic. 

"This morning, I filed House Bill No. 07572 that would authorize the Commission on Elections (Comelec) to allow our senior citizens to vote by mail at the comfort of their homes," Marikina Rep. Stella Quimbo said in a statement. 

Under the bill, Comelec may allow for postal voting only if they "deem it necessary." 

Quimbo said that in the 2019 elections, around 9.1 million of the 61.8 million registered voters are senior citizens. 

"We cannot allow the disenfranchisement of our elderly population just because there is an ongoing pandemic," the lawmaker said, citing the United States, United Kingdom, Switzerland, Australia at New Zealand as models for postal voting. 

The lawmaker said this type of voting is not new to Comelec since the mechanism was similar to what was being implemented for migrant voters.

"We also do not have to re-invent the wheel. May sistema na ang Comelec para sa postal voting dahil ginagawa ito ng ating OFWs. Kailangan na lang ayusin ito at ibatay sa pangangailangan ng senior citizens."

Deputy Minority leader Carlos Isagani Zarate said the minority bloc would support the measure.

"Meron na tayong batas na nagtatakda ng special voting place for senior citizens and PWDs (persons with disabilities). With the pandemic now, I think that has to be adjusted also," Zarate said.

The Philippines' health department on Wednesday reported that the country's total coronavirus cases stood at 226,440, the highest in Southeast Asia.