MANILA (UPDATE)— Angelina Jolie for president? Mariah Carey for vice president? Taylor Swift and Lady Gaga for senator?
These are some of the star-studded "candidates" test voters must choose from during the Commission on Elections' (Comelec) mock polls held nationwide Wednesday that simulated the May 2022 national and local elections amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
Thirty four voting centers scattered in 7 regions participated in the mock elections that opened at 7 a.m. to accommodate volunteer voters who want to get a sense of how to cast their votes come May 9, 2022 amid strict health protocols.
At the Padre Zamora Elementary School (PZES) in Pasay City, one of the 6 voting centers in Metro Manila, elderly couple Elvira and Francisco Aquillo were the first to cast their votes.
"Para malaman namin kung ano talaga yung nangyayari. Safe naman. Hindi naman matagal... Hindi naman ako nahirapan, pareho lang [nung mga nakaraan]," Elvira told reporters, as she showed her inked index finger indicating she has "voted."
(So we know how to vote next year. We feel safe. It didn't take long. It was easy, nothing different from the previous elections.)
Elvira's husband Francisco had a similar "easy" experience.
Before they were able to vote, the pair first went through Comelec's health screening, such as temperature scanning, to ensure they were not exhibiting COVID-19 symptoms.
Those manifesting signs of the respiratory disease would be held briefly in the isolation polling place (IPP), where a second health scanning would be done. If symptoms persist, a voter would cast his vote in the IPP, unable to personally feed the ballot in the vote counting machine (VCM).
In a press briefing midday, Comelec spokesman James Jimenez said no one has been held in the PZES's IPP.
The spokesman added the activity exceeded their expected turnout of volunteer voters.
"It looks like mataas ang turnout ng ating voters for this mock elections," he said.
Pasay City had a 100 percent attendance from two areas of registered voters during the mock elections, the official noted.
Jimenez explained that the nationwide mock elections was meant to "sharpen" the template of operations to be used on May 9, 2022.
"Kailangan natin malaman how this will shape up in real life... Di natin malalaman saan ang bottlenecks kung di natin papasadahan... This is where we see real life problems and hopefully real life solutions working," he said.
He reminded voters to take care of their ballots to avoid a situation similar to an incident in Taguig City wherein a ballot was not counted by a vote-counting machine because of pen markings on its security mark.
The Comelec ended the nationwide mock elections at 5 p.m. after which a mock canvassing of votes would be held in Cuneta Astrodome to declare the "winners."
— With a report from Johnson Manabat, ABS-CBN News