Senator Imee R. Marcos, chairwoman of the Senate electoral reforms committee, has kickstarted congressional hearings to ensure that the national and local elections scheduled for 2022 would push through, echoing President Duterte’s instructions against their postponement.
Despite the onslaught of coronavirus disease (Covid-19) postponing elections worldwide last year, Marcos said her committee “remains undeterred in finding the right pandemic-related measures to ensure next year’s elections will be safe for voters and poll watchers.”
As of January 19, the International Foundation for Election Systems recorded 116 election events postponed in 69 countries and eight territories.
Australia, Canada, Germany, Hong Kong SAR and the UK are some of the countries that decided to put off local, municipal or legislative elections in 2020 and rescheduled them for this year.
“We must strive to be like South Korea which succeeded last April in holding elections that were safe even with a higher voter turnout,” Marcos said.
“Early planning and preparation for the elections with a pandemic scenario in mind will prevent a super spreader event and minimize challenges to the legitimacy of election results,” Marcos pointed out.
The lack of election infrastructure and planning to ensure the health and safety of voters remains “worrisome,” Marcos said, citing the predicament of seniors, persons with disability (PWD), pregnant women, and indigenous peoples.
Marcos added that many teachers who would serve as poll inspectors are above 60 years old and are at higher risk of contracting Covid-19.
“We can’t wait for vaccines to arrive and mass immunization to begin before planning for crucial elections. Sourcing additional funding and putting in place pandemic-related measures will take time,” Marcos explained.
The weak registration of new voters reported by the Commission on Elections (Comelec) and a possibly low voter turnout because of fear of viral infection or confusion about new voting procedures might put the legitimacy of elections into question, Marcos said.
“Add to that the likelihood of election results being announced later than usual,” Marcos added.
National and local elections in May 2022 will be followed by the Barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan (SK) elections in December.