Sun.Star Cebu

No easy access for elderly and PWD voters

Monday’s voter turnout was exemplary and humongous. I didn’t experience that in previous elections

- ELIAS ESPINOZA atty.elliee@gmail.com

Generally peaceful was the assessment of the Commission on Elections (Comelec) and the police on Monday’s conduct of the general elections here in Central Visayas despite the shooting to death of Barangay Tungason Councilor Jose “Sadam” Quiros in Olango Island, Lapu-Lapu City and the strafing incident in the town of San Fernando, a hotspot in almost every election.

We went in the morning to vote in our precinct in Subangdaku, Mandaue City and, believe me, it was remarkably orderly despite the long queue of voters. I wish the voters’ orderlines­s in Subangdaku precincts was the same all throughout the country despite the reported glitches of VCMs in some areas of the country and threats to disrupt the polls.

Monday’s voter turnout was exemplary and humongous. I didn’t experience that in previous elections. There was so much noise and it was raucous in the past elections, and those came from the supporters of the city’s candidates as well as of national candidates at the entrance of the Subangdaku Elementary School.

Perhaps, the reason why the police did not consider the killing of Barangay Councilor Quiros and the strafing incident in San Fernando, Cebu as election-related incidents because these did not disrupt Monday’s elections. After all, that is all what we wished and prayed for—an orderly and peaceful election.

However, I could only wish that the reported violent incident inside a polling precinct in Basilan where a man allegedly destroyed the ballots and the killings in Maguindana­o would be considered isolated and would not affect the entire election process in the country.

But the Comelec failed to address the defective VCMs contrary to its earlier promise to the voters that all the VCMs distribute­d to all the precincts nationwide were 100 percent working since many still malfunctio­ned on election day. That’s simply not acceptable. The same was true with the National Power Grid Corp. It’s all lip service that there would be no power outage. But brownouts were reported in many places during voting Monday.

The Comelec also miserably failed to provide easy access to the elderly and PWD voters. In our precinct in Subangdaku, an elderly woman in a wheelchair had to be carried by her companions up the second floor where her precinct is located. I was somehow misled into thinking that the elderly and PWD voters would have easy access to their precincts. Watching the PWDs and the elderlies in wheelchair­s cast their votes was very touching for me. They really showed their love for our country that despite their incapaciti­es they valued their constituti­onal right of suffrage.

The 1,800 VCMs that malfunctio­ned puts Comelec in the eye of the storm. This could spring controvers­y and could lead to election protests by the poll losers. It was reported that voters in precincts where the VCM did not function disagreed with the advice of Commission­er George Garcia to leave their ballots to the election officers, who will feed these into the VCMs that replaced the defective ones.

The voters refused because they wanted to see the receipt if it reflected the candidates they voted for. Because of this problem, Kontra Daya, an election watchdog, asked the Comelec to extend the voting hours beyond 7 p.m. stating that leaving the ballots to the election officers is “unacceptab­le.”

“Kontra Daya reiterates that it is the choice of voters to wait for their ballots to be fed to VCMs. Prohibitin­g voters may result in loss in confidence on the results of the election,” it said. (SunStar Philippine­s)

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