Senate tackles bill making voting easier for PWDs, senior citizens

Posted on October 20, 2012

A MEASURE seeking to provide persons with disabilities and senior citizens special polling places during elections was tackled at the Senate floor.

Electoral reforms and people’s participation committee chair, Senator Aquilino L. Pimentel, III, on Wednesday said in his sponsorship of Senate Bill (SB) 3287, that there is a "need for lawmakers to give more meaning to the exercise of their political rights without discrimination or restriction."

"It shall be the duty of the Comelec (Commission on Elections) to render appropriate assistance to PWDs (persons with disabilities) and SCs (senior citizens) in coordination with Government Agencies and Civil Society Organizations," SB 3287 read.

Under the proposed measure, the Comelec is required to conduct satellite or special registration and shall designate polling places for PWDs and SCs in accessible places, which "shall be located at the ground floor, preferably near the entrance of the building, and is free of any physical barriers and provided with necessary services, including assistive devices."

"How can these sectors register as voters when the registration centers are not easily accessible to them? How can they eventually vote when their precincts are located on the upper floors of the polling centers without elevators or electric-run stairs to make things easier for them," Mr. Pimentel was quoted as saying in a press release on Friday.

A similar measure, House Bill (HB) 5509 was approved on third and final reading in December last year.

"The government, through the Commission, shall designate highly accessible polling rooms for PWDs, senior citizens and expectant mothers. The rooms shall be located at the ground floor of each polling center preferably near the entrance of the building," HB 5509 read. -- Kathryn Mae P. Tubadeza