Comelec mulls voting hours extension for 2022 polls: chairman

Gillan Ropero, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Sep 16 2021 09:51 AM | Updated as of Sep 16 2021 01:40 PM

Residents line up to register as voters for the 2022 national elections at the Commission on Elections (Comelec) office in Manila on September 07, 2021. Jonathan Cellona, ABS-CBN News
Residents line up to register as voters for the 2022 national elections at the Commission on Elections (Comelec) office in Manila on September 07, 2021. Jonathan Cellona, ABS-CBN News

MANILA - The Commission on Elections is considering to extend voting hours in the 2022 polls due to the COVID-19 pandemic, its chairman said Thursday.

Poll precincts will be open from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m., but hours might be extended up to 9 p.m., said chairman Sheriff Abas.

"Titingnan natin ang flow ng botante on that day because the en banc can decide immediately...pwede tayo magextend ng 2 oras, 3 oras," he told ANC's Headstart.

(We will look at the flow of voters on that day because the en banc can decide immediately...we can extend to 2 hours, 3 hours.)

"If everyone were to come like sunod-sunod, darating sila regularly then kayang-kaya to. We have 12 hours to begin with," Comelec spokesperson James Jimenez added.

(If everyone were to come regularly then we can achieve this.)

Further extension of hours will take into consideration if the area is a hotspot for the coronavirus, according to Abas.

Congress would have to amend the Constitution if voting is to be extended by days and more budget would be needed for teachers' salary, Abas said.

"If they will amend it, they have to also double our budget because 'di pwede na ang bayad mo sa isang teacher, pang-isang araw lang," he said.

(If they will amend it, they have to also double our budget because you can't pay teachers for a day's service only.)

Senior citizens and other vulnerable population will have their own poll precinct to separate them from the general public, he added.

Comelec is also considering health screening prior to voters' entry, which was implemented in the Palawan plebiscite in March, Jimenez said.

"Kunyari may duda tayo to your health status, you're going to be diverted to an isolated voting place. Magkakaroon ng provisions for that. May makina doon and a board of election inspector especially equipped for that," he said.

(If we suspect your health status, you're going to be diverted to an isolated voting place. There will be provisions there--a machine and a board of election inspector especially equipped for that.)

A special assistance desk will also be put in place to avoid crowds gathering while searching for their poll precinct, Jimenez added.

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