The Senate committees on electoral reforms, social justice and finance have endorsed for floor debate a bill enhancing accessibility in the early voting of senior citizens, persons with disability (PWD), pregnant women and indigenous people (IP).
Senator Imee Marcos, chairwoman of the Senate electoral reforms committee, said this arrangement would separate these classes of voters from joining the mass of regular voters during the regular voting day in national and local elections, preventing them from being infected with COVID-19 and respecting their right to vote.
Senate Bill 2216 proposes to direct the Commission on Elections (Comelec) to set a date of registration and a date for early voting.
The date for early voting should be within 30 days before the voting day and should be done not more than two days before the elections.
The measure also directs the Comelec to make sure that the accessible polling places should be on the ground floor for senior citizens, PWDs and pregnant women.
Such accessible polling places should be near public transportation, wheelchair, have appropriate ventilation, and should have sign language interpreters.
Section 4 of SB 2216 on option for postal early voting states that: ‘’ Senior citizens, PWDs, pregnant women, and IPs who registered for early voting shall have the option to cast their ballot via post in designated precincts: Provided, That voters who wish to vote via post must first be registered to do so with the Commission. The Commission shall provide rules, necessary safeguards, and confirmation procedures to properly implement this provision.’’