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Mock polls in San Juan test 2022 voting process

Jose Rodel Clapano - The Philippine Star
Mock polls in San Juan test 2022 voting process
San Juan City residents take part in a voting simulation at the San Juan Elementary School yesterday. The Comelec exercise aims to test the efficiency of the process and the implementation of basic health protocols.
Krizjohn Rosales

MANILA, Philippines — Mock elections were held yesterday by the Commission on Elections (Comelec) at the San Juan Elementary School, which has the biggest number of voting precincts in the smallest city of the capital region.

With school gates opening at 8 a.m., four classrooms were used as polling precincts and another three classrooms as holding areas for the voting simulation in preparation for the 2022 national and local elections.

Comelec spokesman James Jimenez said the voting simulation covered Barangays Balong Bato and Ermitano, which have a total of 4,235 registered voters.

Comelec commissioners, directors and observers from the House of Representatives, the Senate and other agencies were present to observe how the whole process might actually take place in the actual elections next year amid the pandemic.
“This simulation is not a simulation of the voting system. It is a simulation of the operation process,” Jimenez said.

The exercise aims to test and ensure the security and efficiency of the voting process and the implementation of basic health protocols, he said.
“It is a great honor that one of the reasons that San Juan was chosen was because of the city’s high vaccination rate,” said San Juan Mayor Francis Zamora.

“It is proof that San Juan City is one of safest cities in the country because we are first to achieve herd immunity,” Zamora said.

Under Republic Act No. 9369, the holding of mock elections is required to test and ensure the security features, accuracy and functional capability of all the elements of voter registration verification system (VRVS), the vote counting machine (VCMs), transmission devices and the consolidation and the canvassing system.

The exercise also aims to help Comelec determine the average time frame in verifying the identity of voters, identify other areas of concern in the verification process and devise measures to decongest polling sites and implement procedures to complete the voting process in the shortest possible time.
Based on observations from the mock polls, the Comelec will draft implementing guidelines for the elections on May 9, 2022, also taking into account the behavior of participating voters and the conduct of health and safety protocols.

“This process is really important for all of us, not only for the Comelec,” Zamora said. “The elections next year is entirely different from all the other elections in the past, we are under a pandemic so extra precautionary measures should be in place for the safety of the people.”

Vaccination not required

Meanwhile, the Comelec is resolute on not requiring voters to be vaccinated in order to exercise their right to cast their ballots.

“We are not requiring that because the law does not require it; and we are anticipating that on Election Day, there would still be those who are not vaccinated,” Comelec deputy executive director for operations Teofisto Elnas Jr. said

“People who are not vaccinated for whatever reason may still vote and they would not be required to present a vaccination card of any sort,” Elnas said.

Jimenez added that the Comelec will also not require the electorate to submit negative test results for COVID-19 or any similar tests when they go to the polling precincts to vote.

However, he urged sick people “to stay in treatment or if you are contagious stay away from people” to ensure the safety of every voter during the elections.

“Obviously we want everyone to vote even if we have doubts about their health status, we will still allow them to vote. But if they are in quarantine or isolation or treatment, we recommend them to stay treated,” Jimenez said. – Robertzon Ramirez

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