Extended voting hours and incentivized vaccination of poll workers were among the recommendations of educators to ensure that the May 2022 elections will be safe from the threat of coronavirus disease (COVID-19).
In a virtual forum entitled “COVID-Proofing the 2022 Elections”, educators from the De La Salle University (DLSU) presented recommendations to keep the upcoming polls COVID-19 free.
“There’s the need to extend voting hours to avoid crowding in polling places, aside from implementing safety arrangements inside the polling place, protocols that seek to limit crowds outside the precinct should be crafted and enforced,” Ian Jayson Hecita, lead policy research specialist of the La Salle Institute of Governance, said.
“Given the recent developments in COVID-19 response in the country, the Commission on Elections should consider adopting policies that mandate or encourage or incentivize vaccination and COVID-19 testing of all poll workers and other election support personnel,” Hecita added.
He also underscored the need to adopt measures that limit physical contact, promote physical distancing, and encourage the use of virtual platforms during political campaigns.
“Require and promote contactless procedure or reduced physical contact during pre-election campaign activities, these may include mandates and options in the utilization of virtual and electronic platforms in all transactions and processes of the Comelec,” Hecita said.
Personal protective equipment should also be made available and accessible to voters and poll workers during election day.
Gerado Eusebio, a professorial lecturer at DLSU’s Department of Political Science Development, likewise recommended stricter limitations or prohibition of in-person campaigning.
“Particularly, we would like to see limitations in campaigning for local positions to be based on the quarantine alert level of the area as defined by the national government,” Eusebio said.
“While in-person campaigns for national candidates should be more strictly limited, if not outright banned so that cross-territorial infections would be avoided,” he added.