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Angara seeks passage of early voting bill

SEN. Juan Edgardo «Sonny» Angara pressed for the approval of his bill that will allow early voting for senior citizens and persons with disabilities (PWDs).

The senator cited the positive results of the pilot implementation of an early voting scheme for the elderly and PWDs during the Barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan Elections (BSKE).

The National Commission on Senior Citizens said over 11.6 million Filipinos ages 60 and above were registered as voters for the BSKE.

Angara on Thursday reiterated his call for the immediate approval of Senate Bill (SB) 777 institutionalizing early voting for senior citizens and PWDs. SB 777 seeks to enhance the accessibility of voting and implementation of early voting for seniors and PWDs.

Angara said the approval of SB 777 «is long overdue and should already be implemented in the next election.» Under SB 777, senior citizens and PWDs will be allowed to cast their votes for a period no less than two days within 15 days before election day.

The elderly and PWDs who register for early voting will have the option to cast their ballots via post in designated precincts.

Commission on Elections (Comelec) Chairman George Erwin Garcia cited a «blockbuster» turnout in the pilot implementation of early voting for the elderly and PWDs in Naga and Muntinlupa City, where the concerned voters showed up as early as 5 a.m. to cast their votes for the village polls. Garcia said the scheme should be implemented nationwide in the 2025 election and urged Congress to pass the law allowing the vulnerable sectors to vote ahead of the scheduled elections.

«It is encouraging to hear from our Comelec Chairman about the positive reception of our senior citizens and PWDs to the early voting scheme in the two pilot cities,» Angara said in a statement.

«It clearly shows that in spite of difficulties they experience, they always make it a point to exercise their right to suffrage,» he said.

The bill will amend Republic Act 10366 or the law that authorizes the Comelec to establish precincts assigned to accessible polling places exclusively for PWDs and senior citizens.

The establishments must have sufficient disability support services located on the ground floor of