In previous elections — this was taken the 2018 barangay elections on Boracay Island — voters tend to flock together to voting precincts. To prevent this, which could lead to COVID-19 infections, the Comelec will prohibit loitering and gossiping at voting precincts in the May 9, 2022 elections. (File photo by NESTOR P. BURGOS JR. / Inquirer Visayas)
MANILA, Philippines — Loitering and gossiping at voting precincts on election day will not be allowed to prevent the risk of COVID-19 infection in the 2022 polls, a Commission on Elections (Comelec) official said Monday.
"Our experience before is that, before voting, people would gather, engage in gossip and tell stories inside the voting center. This time, we will not allow it to happen," Comelec Director Teopisto Elnas Jr., speaking in a mix of English and Filipino, said during a forum organized by the poll watchdog National Citizens' Movement for Free Elections (Namfrel).
"We will discourage that experience of people loitering there, starting with one, two until there's a lot of them. We will have a problem with crowd control within the voting center," he added.
Elnas said voters should cast their votes as quickly as possible to prevent the transmission of COVID-19.
"This time, once they enter they will go directly to the voters' assistance desk if they don't their precinct. Once they've been informed, they will be directed to proceed to their respective polling place," he said.
After casting their vote, voters will be advised to exit the polling place.
Elnas said either the police or the military would be tapped to handle crowd control on the election day to ensure minimum health standards would be observed.
Isolation polling places
Meanwhile, voters who will show high body temperature during the required check will be directed to vote to an isolation polling place (IPP) set up inside the voting center, Elnas said.
"Just in case the temperature goes beyond 37.5 [degrees] centigrade, the voter would be brought to the IPP," he said. "He will not be asked to leave right away because we will be depriving him of his right to cast his vote."
After they have finished casting their votes, they will be turned over to health officials, according to Elnas.
Other health protocols will also be in place on election day, which is on May 9, 2022.
Elnas said Comelec would limit the capacity of each polling place to 10 to 15 persons at a time.
If space permits, the Comelec will also put up a holding area in the voting precincts where voters can wait for their turn.
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