Out of the six-million people with disabilities and senior citizens, only 209,000 of them have expressed their intention to vote at the accessible polling places on Election Day, the Commission on Elections said on Wednesday.
Comelec chairman Andres Bautista said the small number may be due to their lack of awareness that they needed to declare their preference during the registration period.
“It is possible that they did not know that they needed to tick the box in the application form,” Bautista explained.
“At the end of the day, we are doing everything we can so that no voter is left behind. Our role as a poll management body is to always find ways to increase enfranchisement. Our primary client is always the voters,” the poll chief said.
After having listed down all seniors and PWDs in every precincts, the Comelec will now inform them to avail of the accessible polling places.
Bautista said the poll body is planning to transfer those with high number of PWDs and senior citizens to shopping malls adjacent to their polling precincts and designating voting rooms at the ground floors of voting centers.
“We can’t fix all the problems overnight. Efforts have been under way since 2008 and it’s a continuous process,” Bautista, who is an advocate of mall voting, said.
Since he assumed office, Bautista secured the support of several mall chains in installing voting centers to replace the adjacent or nearby polling precincts.
So far, the Fisher Mall has backed out from the deal explaining that its owners are involved with a partylist that will run in the elections.
Bautista also said that they are also coordinating with the Department of Education and the Department of Public Works and Highways in ensuring the availability of APPs in public schools that will be designated as voting centers.