VOTERS who will arrive at polling precincts on May 9 with coronavirus symptoms such as high body temperature will not be disenfranchised as health protocols have been set and will be implemented nationwide.
The Commission on Elections (Comelec) on Wednesday held a public step-by-step demonstration of the procedures at the Araullo High School in Manila, which was streamed live on the agency’s official Facebook page.
Symptomatic voters will be asked to sign a waiver and will be promptly escorted by Comelec staff to a designated isolated polling place, which could be separate booths or classrooms.
At the same venue, poll officials also held the final testing and sealing of vote-counting machines that will be deployed for these specialized areas.
The isolation stations and protocols will be similar to what was implemented in last year’s Palawan plebiscite, the first electoral exercise conducted in the country during the pandemic.
Election Commissioner Aimee S. Torrefrance-Neri, who heads the Comelec’s “new normal” committee, earlier said the election body will create its own medical advisory board to help develop more timely policies and guidelines for the public.
She also said that Comelec would set up medical desks in polling venues to attend to voters with health-related concerns on election day.
Comelec in March issued an order allowing persons with disabilities, senior citizens, and pregnant voters to cast their ballots in special voting areas that will have ramps, sign language interpreters, and accessible washrooms.
Last week, Comelec Commissioner George Erwin M. Garcia told reporters in a Viber message that face shields, vaccination cards, and negative RT-PCR test results would not be required during the elections.
Mr. Jimenez earlier noted that there are about 105,000 polling precincts this year compared to 80,000 during the 2019 elections to allow for distancing.
A total of 37,219 public schools will be used as polling centers across the country, Education Secretary Leonor M. Briones said during the televised Laging Handa briefing on Wednesday. — John Victor D. Ordoñez