Aware of the difficulties senior citizens and persons with disabilities have to face during elections, Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez wants to ease their woes by allowing them to vote under the local absentee voting system.
Absentee voting is meant to increase participation by citizens who are in situations, which prevent them to vote, like government officials and employees and members of the media.
He noted that despite the passage of Republic Act N. 10366, authorizing the Commission on Elections to put up accessible polling places exclusively for PWDs and senior citizens, many people still failed or were discouraged to vote because of their mobility limitations or their physical and health conditions.
“At present, there is no law granting PWDs and senior citizens the privilege to vote under local absentee voting,” Alvarez noted.
In filing House Bill No. 5019, Alvarez said he wants to ensure that senior citizens and PWDs, who are unable to vote in their registered precincts during election day on account of their physical and health conditions can cast their votes as local absentee voters in places other than where they are registered, subject to the rules and regulations issued by the Comelec.
“The State must ensure that they are able to exercise their right to vote in a comfortable manner and with greater accessibility,” Alvarez said.
The bill seeks to amend Republic Act No. 10380, or “An Act Providing for Local Absentee Voting for Media” to extend the right to vote under the local absentee voting system to PWDs and senior citizens.
The new law shall be known as the “Expanded Voting Act of 2017”.
Under the bill, the Comelec is given 60 days from the effectivity of the act to promulgate the necessary implementing rules and regulations.
Implementation of the absentee voting system in the country began through Executive Order No. 157, series of 1987, issued by the late Pres. Corazon Aquino, covering officers and employees of government who are away from their places of their registration by reasons of official functions on election day.
With the passage of RA 10380, the absentee voting system expanded its coverage to include members of the media and media practitioners, including their staff who are registered voters, and who, on election day, may not be able to vote due to the performance of their functions.