Comelec eyes '5 voters at a time' in precincts for 2022 polls

By Ferdinand Patinio

February 4, 2021, 3:50 pm

<p><em>(File photo)</em></p>

(File photo)

MANILA – The Commission on Elections (Comelec) is looking to allow at least five voters inside precincts at a time for next year's elections in case the coronavirus pandemic persists.

In a television interview on Thursday, Comelec chairman Sheriff Abas said this aims to control the number of people inside voting centers, in compliance with health protocols.

“Our initial plan is at least five voters at one time will be allowed to vote and we are also planning to add some vote-counting machines. During the elections, there are many people inside schools. That is our biggest hurdle," he said.

Abas, however, said they are coming up with other ways to allow people to exercise their right to suffrage without sacrificing their safety amid the pandemic.

On the other hand, Comelec spokesperson James Jimenez said they are looking at mail voting and online voting as an alternative option.

He, however, said these measures will need approval from Congress.

“Mail voting is a solution that is being proposed. In fact, there’s legislation pending for it but also other means of voting are being considered for instance absentee voting partly for senior citizens and PWDs (persons with disabilities). All of these are proceedings on the legislative front,” he said in a separate television interview.

At the same time, the Comelec official added that they are also looking at allowing online campaigning.

“On the part of the Comelec, it is important to understand that yes we intend to open up online campaigning as a viable alternative to in-person campaigning. However, we are more concerned about establishing an even playing field so that everyone gets an opportunity to use online campaigning and online resources and overwhelmed by candidates with more capability than others,” Jimenez added.

During elections, the campaign period for national positions starts 90 days before the scheduled polls while local candidates are given 45 days to campaign. (PNA)