Senior citizens endure long lines, crowded precincts to vote

By ANNE MARXZE D. UMIL
With reports from Dominic Gutoman
Bulatlat.com

MANILA – Senior citizens in many parts of Metro Manila waited for hours just to be able to cast their votes today, May 9.

In Damayang Lagi, Quezon City, Al Sarmiento told Bulatlat that although the designated polling center of senior citizens and persons with disabilities (PWDs) is in the ground floor, there were no vote-counting machine (VCM). Her father, 71 years old, and her aunt, 68, had to go to the school’s third floor to vote.

Sarmiento said that those who had difficulty walking up the stairs were made to sign a waiver as they had to leave the ballots in the polling precincts.

Lisa Ito, secretary general of Concerned Artist of the Philippines (CAP) reported that her senior citizen mother also had to go up four floors where the voting voting areas for senior citizens and PWDs were located.

In Caloocan, Mario Dumdum, 70, said he had to wait for over an hour to cast his vote.

In Tandang Sora Elementary School, the Emergency Accessible Polling Place (EAPP) at the ground floor also does not have a functioning VCM.

“Senior citizens and PWDs are instructed to place their ballots in a box, and they will not be able to feed their ballot into the VCM, check the receipt, and drop the receipt in the designated box. After 5:00 pm, the ballots will be distributed to the senior citizens and PWDs’ respective precincts. Again, they will not be able to check their voting receipt,” said Therese Torres in her social media post.

Torres said that according to the EAPP volunteer Irene Bautista, these are the procedures they received from the Commission on Elections (Comelec).

Also in the same polling center, senior citizens and PWDs at the ground floor are asked to shade their ballots and place it in a box. Some seniors refused and waited in the regular lane.

In Sero Central Elementary School Cotabato City, senior citizens also raised concerns over the unorganized conduct of poll voter lines. Most of them have lined up for more than an hour.

According to Kontra Daya, while election officers can feed the ballots into the VCM under certain circumstances, voters should assert their rights.

“Under Comelec resolution 10759 (2022), while the ballot should only be seen by the voter in most cases, other election officials can handle the ballot under contingency measures,” the group said in a statement.

The group added that when a VCM breaks down, voters can opt to either wait for a vote counting machine to arrive and feed the ballot in themselves; or allow the election board official to feed the ballot later on when the replacement machine arrives. If they opt for the latter, then they should sign a waiver to this effect.

Kontra Daya encouraged the voters to wait for replacement VCMs to arrive in order to be assured that their votes are counted correctly. (RVO) (https://www.bulatlat.com)

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