Comelec to hold simulation 'to streamline voting experience'

Comelec to hold simulation 'to streamline voting experience'
Security personnel assist individuals in observing health protocols as they queue for the issuance of voters' certificates while others came for the continuation of the voter registration at the Comelec satellite booth inside the SM City Masinag in Antipolo, Rizal on Oct. 18, 2021.
The STAR / Miguel de Guzman

MANILA, Philippines — The Commission on Elections is set to conduct a voting simulation on Saturday, October 23, at the San Juan Elementary School to refine its quarantine protocols for voters ahead of the 2022 national and local elections.

In a statement sent to reporters, the Comelec said that the simulation, to be conducted from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., aims to "determine the average time frame in the verification process of the identity of the voters in the Election Day Computerized Voting List."

Comelec added that the simulation would employ four classrooms as polling precincts and three classrooms as holding areas to service exactly 3,564 test voters. 

"While we definitely expect these health and safety protocols to impact voting hours and the number of voters that may be allowed to vote at a given time, we are confident that this activity will help is to streamline the overall voting experience," Comelec spokesperson James Jimenez said.

The commission has asserted that the pandemic would not stop the elections in May 2022. 

"Comelec can suspend elections or declare failure of elections when it becomes impossible to hold free and fair elections," Jimenez said in May of this year. 

Election adjustments due to pandemic

The Comelec in its statement said that the simulation activity aims "to come up with proposals aimed to streamline the process of verification [and] identify other areas of concern or issues in the verification process, taking into consideration the minimum health and safety protocols. 

It is also meant to allow the commission to "devise measures that will decongest polling places and implement procedures that will ensure completion of the voting process in the shortest possible time."

All participants will be required to observe minimum public health standards including wearing a face mask and face shield while inside the voting center and polling place. 

They will also be asked to observe one-meter physical distancing and proper cough and sneezing etiquette at all times, while hands and frequently touched surfaces will require constant disinfection.

"The now-ubiquitous temperature check and plastic barriers will be present. There will also be designated COVID-19 marshalls and medical personnel," the Comelec's statement read. 

During the simulation, a voter assistance desk for securing one's precinct and sequence numbers will be installed, while voters registering a temperature higher than 37.5 degrees will be allowed to vote in an "isolation polling place."

An "emergency accessible polling place" will be made available for persons with disabilities, senior citizens, and pregnant women.

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