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Senator Imee Marcos has expressed worry that mock polls held last year did not thoroughly run through pandemic protocols and may lead to voters losing their way at election centers and being disenfranchised in the May 9 elections.

Marcos, who chairs the Senate committee on electoral reforms and people’s participation, said that overcrowding took place during last year’s mock polls due to technical and logistical glitches.

Participants spent much time looking for their names and assigned precincts, vote-counting machines jammed or rejected ballots, and a weak internet signal delayed the voting process.

Marcos questioned the Comelec on the role of the Department of Health (DOH) in implementing health protocols in polling precincts nationwide, after the Comelec reported that it took 10 minutes and 47 seconds for each voter to cast a vote during the mock polls.

“What exactly is the role of DOH? With the overcrowding that took place, did we not fall short in applying Covid-19 protocols?” Marcos asked.

Marcos recommended that another round of mock polls be held with more participation from DOH personnel and for the Comelec to immediately release guidelines on how election campaigns should be conducted.

“I urge the Comelec to issue guidelines ASAP on how to maintain safety during caravans, sorties, house-to-house visits and town hall meetings,” Marcos emphasized.

The Comelec should also speed up the release of voter precinct assignments through social media platforms instead of just mailing the information to registered voters, the senator added.

Marcos expressed regret that early voting for vulnerable groups could not take place on May 9 because the Senate did not pass  Senate Bill 1104, which she authored.

The bill could have allowed vulnerable groups like senior citizens, persons with disability (PWDs), and pregnant women to vote ahead of the general public.

The privilege could also have been extended to health workers, poll watchers, military and police personnel, and the media, the senator said.