Malls instead of schools: Comelec eyes new voting sites for 2025 elections

Malls instead of schools: Comelec eyes new voting sites for 2025 elections
Qualified individuals register at the Comelec’s special voters registration satellite for the vulnerable sector at a mall in Baguio City on January 24, 2023.
STAR / Andy Zapata Jr.

MANILA, Philippines — The Commission on Elections is planning to set up voting precincts in malls instead of schools for the 2025 midterm elections to improve voters’ access to polling sites.

Comelec Chairperson George Garcia told Rayo 630 on Sunday that it plans to expand mall voting across the country after the polling body’s voting simulations on Saturday received positive feedback from its participants.

Comelec held simulated Barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan Elections (BSKE) at SM City Manila, SM City Legazpi, Robinsons Ermita, Manila, and Robinsons Galleria, Cebu on Saturday.

“We want to implement that nationwide in 2025, which is why we piloted it. As it turns out there are around 400-500 malls in the country that we can use,” Garcia said in Filipino. 

“If ever schools won't be used anymore, the plants of the teachers won't be destroyed, the small seats won't be an issue, and the children's education won't be disturbed. Because of course, schools already have classes in October,” the Comelec chief added.

The Barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan Elections on October 30 will include at least 10 malls as voting sites: 8 in Metro Manila and one each in Cebu and Legazpi City.

These malls are also offering their facilities to the Comelec “free of charge,” Garcia added.

The Comelec previously said at least 16,000 voters will participate in mall voting on election day.

Besides the ease of access and security, mall voting could also deter vote buying due to the presence of more security guards from both the mall’s administration and the Comelec, Garcia said.

Last week, the Philippine National Police said there are around 27 places being considered areas of grave concern during the BSKE. These sites are usually localities where there is a high chance of election-related violence erupting among political rivals.

Garcia said during the interview with Radyo 630 that the PNP and Comele will announce next week which places will be flagged as hotspots and/or placed under Comelec control.

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