In a House Committee on Suffrage hearing
on June 1 to discuss a bill mandating the use of ground-floor
polling places for persons with disabilities and senior citizens,
the Comelec, through Commissioners Rene Sarmiento and Armando
Velasco, recommended that separate precincts be formed for said
voters, to be referred to as "highly-accessible polling places." The
Comelec said these polling places would have their own separate
voters lists, special Boards of Election Inspectors (SBEIS),
election paraphernalia, and PCOS machines (should the
election be automated using Smartmatic's machines).
The original bill, House Bill no. 4048 authored by Rep. Teddy Casiño
(et al), only seeks the designation of special rooms for PWDs and
senior citizens at the ground floor of multi-storey polling centers,
and requires only the alocation of extra ballot boxes for the
purpose. It does not call for the creation of additional polling
centers. Per the bill, "At the end of the day, before the counting
of ballots or transmission of votes, the assigned board of election
inspectors shall submit the ballot boxes to the corresponding
precincts for consolidation.
The Comelec said they will conduct a study to ascertain how much
additional funds their proposal would require.
A challenge for the Comelec is the possibility of having a special
registration just for PWDs and senior citizens if their proposal to
have separate voters lists for these voters is approved. At present,
whether a voter has a disability or not is not being captured in
their registration process. The Comelec would also need to ascertain
that their voters lists are clean and constantly updated. For the
2010 elections, it was discovered that Comelec's voters lists have
hundreds of centenarians (600 in Taguig alone), and the names of
long-deceased voters were still on the lists.