MANILA (UPDATE) — The Commission on Elections (Comelec) on Wednesday announced that voting hours on the May 9, 2022 national and local elections would be from 6 a.m. to 7 p.m., or an hour longer from the duration of the 2019 midterm polls.
This, as pandemic safety measures, including physical distancing in polling places, are expected to slow down the voting process.
During the House of Representatives Committee on Suffrage and Electoral Reforms hearing Wednesday, Comelec commissioner Marlon Casquejo told lawmakers the en banc has just approved the resolution setting the voting hours.
"Just this morning the en banc already approved general instructions for the Electoral Board... Voting hours start 6 in the morning and end at 7 [p.m.]," Casquejo said.
The poll official added that voters "within 30 meters" outside the polling place at closing time would still be accommodated.
"However, at 7 there's still voters outside the polling place in front, 30 meters, we will still continue w/ the voting... We do not expect it will end at 7 but we will continue until such time... [that voters within] 30 meters in front will be catered [to]," he said.
As a comparison, these are the voting hours during elections pre-pandemic:
•2019 midterm polls - 6 a.m. to 6 p.m.
•2016 national and local polls - 6 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Comelec officials had previously said that extended voting hours on May 9, 2022 is "certain," as they thumbed down proposals to hold a multi-day election amid the pandemic.
"Titingnan natin ang flow ng botante on that day because the en banc can decide immediately... puwede tayo mag-extend ng 2 oras, 3 oras," Comelec chairman Sheriff Abas had told ANC.
Under the Comelec's draft 250-page "new normal" manual released last September, the poll body provided an overview of health protocols to be instituted before, during, and after election day, anticipating a "worst case scenario" of the pandemic.
Among new protocols expected to slow down the voting process is the limitation on the number of voters allowed inside a polling place at any given time to ensure physical distancing.
Last October, the Comelec conducted a voting day simulation to determine the average time for one voter to complete the voting process.
Teofisto Elnas Jr., Comelec’s Deputy Executive Director for Operations, said the result of the voting simulation and their recommendations will be included in the general instructions of the commission for election day itself.