Comelec studies basis to allow Covid patients on quarantine to vote

·3 min read

CEBU Provincial Election Supervisor Lionel Marco Castillano said the Comelec is still studying and looking for a legal basis to allow registered voters who might be under quarantine, isolation, or hospitalization because of Covid-19 on the day of the 2022 national elections, to exercise their right to vote.

"Wala man gud mi basis. Dili man pareha sa mga PDLs. (We do not have basis unlike what we have for the PDLs or persons deprived of liberty who are not yet convicted). Let's see if the Comelec will issue a resolution to include them, ato gihapon ng himoon (then we will follow that)," he told SunStar Cebu on Thursday, June 24, 2021.

He said that for the past elections, it has not been practiced that patients confined in hospitals on the day of the election were visited in the healthcare facilities to let them vote.

He, however, said the Comelec, with its mandate to ensure that registered voters can exercise their right to suffrage, is still formulating measures needed for the conduct of election under the new normal.

He said though the government is hoping to achieve herd immunity from the SARS-CoV-2 (the virus causing Covid-19), by vaccinating 70 percent of the eligible population of the country, the Comelec is still preparing for a poll amid a pandemic situation by creating a Committee on the New Normal.

Initially, he said, aside from enforcing social distancing and mandatory wearing of face masks (should it still be applicable in May 2022), the Comelec will also still implement the body temperature screening right at the entrance of the schools which are designated as voting centers on the election day.

He said those voters whose temperature will exceed the normal body temperature upon checking will be asked to rest for a while before their body temperature will be checked again.

If the voter's body temperature still exceeds the normal body temperature (or 38 degrees Celsius above) by this time, he or she will be brought to a special polling place (a separate classroom in the same school or voting center) where he or she can still cast his or her vote, he said.

He said their ballot will be taken from their original polling precinct and will be brought to the special polling place for him or her to vote and afterwards, return the ballot to the voter's original precinct for the counting (to feed it to the automated polling machine).

"After they vote, they will be released, but it is still up to the Department of Health's protocol, but they will be released and advised to undergo quarantine and coordinate with their (respective) barangays," he said in a mix of English and Cebuano.

He also appealed to the voting public to transfer or to register in their present address especially during this "uncertain time" because of Covid-19 when several requirements are needed to travel.

The Comelec has already implemented satellite registrations in various barangays to accommodate those who have difficulty going to their nearest Comelec offices.

Castillano said the total registered voters as of April 19, 2021 is now at 3,015,174.

Of these, 1,446,293 are males and 1,568,881 are females. (WBS)