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Set up more secure, accessible polling places for the elderly and people with disabilities, according to Solon

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A senator has proposed changes to the law that mandates polling precincts for the exclusive use of senior citizens and those with impairments, citing low turnout in recent elections as a result of inconveniences (PWDs).

According to data, only 3%, or 200,000, of the eight million senior persons who were registered to vote, were able to participate in the 2019 midterm elections.

Republic Act 10366, or An Act Authorizing the Commission on Elections (Comelec) to Create Precincts Assigned to Accessible Voting Stations Exclusively for PWDs and Elderly Persons, needs “clearer language,” according to Senator Jinggoy Estrada.

Estrada’s Senate Bill No. 1642 stipulates that special polling locations must be easily reached by public transportation, devoid of all physical impediments, and equipped with the necessary facilities and services, including ramps, railings, sidewalks, adequate lighting, ventilation, and amenities for people with disabilities and senior citizens.

The plan calls for the establishment of special polling precincts at public schools, civic centers, community centers, town halls, or other similarly designated special events or locations, preferably with additional elements to assure comfort and safety.

“The regrettable low turnout for the sectors emphasizes the need and urgency for a stronger legal framework that ensures accessibility of our polling places. In the end, this measure seeks to safeguard each voter’s constitutional right to vote and to encourage broader involvement in the crucial democratic process “Read the explanation of the bill.

Comelec built Emergency Accessible Polling Stations (EAPPs) for PWDs and the elderly for the elections in May 2022.

In close proximity to the voting center, an EAPP could be a temporary polling location or a classroom on the first or ground floor.

The Comelec reported that satellite EAPPs were also constructed in structures such as rehabilitation facilities and sheltered workshops that are close to polling places and are utilized as houses or residences for PWDs and/or senior citizens.

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