Ex-poll official backs pilot test of mail-in voting for seniors


Posted at Nov 10 2020 08:56 AM | Updated as of Nov 10 2020 09:13 AM

A man helps his grandmother cast her vote during the 2019 midterm elections, May 13, 2019. Denvie Balidoy, ABS-CBN News

MANILA – The Philippines can run a pilot project on mail-in voting among senior citizens, a former poll official said Tuesday, amid concerns it can lead to massive cheating in the 2022 elections.

Former Commission on Elections commissioner Gregorio Larrazabal said mail-in voting for senior citizens amid the COVID-19 pandemic was ideal and could be done in areas with low-level political conflict.

“It addresses the security concern of some legislators and some advocates but also pushes forward the concept of mail-in voting for senior citizens,” he told ANC “Matters of Fact”.

"Do it in a province you can monitor easily. Study what are the good and bad things that came out of it. Then do a bigger rollout in 2025,” he added.

Comelec had been conducting absentee voting but only for migrant workers, members of the media and law enforcers selecting candidates for national positions.

Larrazabal also expressed reservations that state-owned Philippine Postal Corp. (PhilPost) would be involved in such system, similar to the recent US general elections where the US Postal Service handled the mail-in balloting.

“Many of us have had bad experiences with the post office. I know a lot of good guys there but as a whole there have been a lot of concerns about how the postal service handles your mail in packages and if those concerns are already with your mail, how much more for the ballots?”

The former poll official believed that mail-in voting could be implemented in the country if sufficient safeguards were in place.

“I know a lot of Comelec field personnel. I’ve worked with many of them, almost all. I know they can do it, but you have to give them the right tools to make sure it’s done right,” he said.

“What does this mean? Do it early. Ask their opinion as to how to make sure to minimize fraud. You make sure that there are sufficient resources to implement that.”

Senate Committee on Electoral Reform chair Imee Marcos in October filed a bill seeking to allow elderly, pregnant, disabled and indigenous Filipinos to vote by mail.

However, Senate President Vicente Sotto III rejected the proposal, saying the scheme is prone to cheating.

Marikina City 2nd District Rep. Stella Quimbo also filed a similar measure in September in light of the COVID-19 pandemic.

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