Solon backs mail-in voting for 2022

Published November 9, 2020, 4:08 PM

by Ellson Quismorio

A Mindanao congressman finds wisdom in Commission on Elections  Commissioner Rowena Guanzon proposal for mail-in voting in the 2022 national elections.

Residents of Manila fill up voters forms in the first day of voter registration at Comelec office in Arroceros, Manila. (Jansen Romero / FILE PHOTO / MANILA BULLETIN)

“Voting by mail is worth considering in the light of the serious risks of the (2019) coronavirus,” Agusan del Norte Rep. Lawrence Fortun said in a statement Monday, roughly a week after the conduct of the United States presidential elections in which mail-in votes figured prominently.

“If efficiently implemented and effective measures are (put) in place to ensure its integrity, this (mail-in votes) will decongest election precincts and keep voters safe from the coronavirus,” said Fortun, a member of the House minority bloc  now headed by Abang Lingkod party-list Rep. Joseph Stephen Paduano.

The solon said that sending ballots through mail “would be best for senior citizens, absentee voting, and for voters on remote islands, coastal areas, and hardly accessible highlands.”

At least 145 million votes have been tallied between Democrat President-elect Joe Biden and outgoing Republican President Donald Trump. This has resulted in record figures for most votes received by the winner (75 million) and the loser (70 million) in a US presidential race.

Much of this reportedly had to do with the choice given to Americans on whether or not to send their votes via mail amid the pandemic. The US has both the highest number of COVID-19 infections and fatalities in the world, at over 10 million and 238,000, respectively.

Despite his remarks, Fortun has serious reservations about tapping the Philippine Postal Corp.  in the mailing in of ballots should the proposal get approved.

“I reject the idea of involving the Philippine Postal Corp.  in the possible adoption of voting by mail. The current state of PhilPost and postal service nationwide does not inspire confidence. It is also an institution too vulnerable to political influence at the national and local levels,” he said.

“Moreover, we have seen in recent years a considerable decline in the services of PhilPost as less and less people are utilizing its services owing to the emergence of new information and communication technologies,” he added.

Private couriers are the way to go, according to Fortun.

“The Comelec already has a good working history with the private courier services with national coverage, ample security, and GPS (global positioning system) tracking. These courier services are in a much better position to assure the country of the secure and timely transport of ballots and election materials.”

He said Comelec already has experience in using private couriers in delivering ballots.