Monday, June 14, 2021

Espinoza: Let's do mail-in or online voting

Free Zone

IN THE months leading to the May 2016 general elections, as well as in the May 2019 midterm polls, this time of the year, anywhere, you would see the posts and the walls are already posted with tarpaulins and posters of the candidates, either newcomers or those seeking reelection. But with less than 11 months to go before the May 9, 2022 general elections, the candidates' posters are seldom.

So far, the tarps I saw is that of ABC president Franklin Ong, Cebu City ex-oficio councilor, and that of Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte-Carpio, who is being egged on by her partymates and supporters to run for president. I am yet to see the tarp or poster of Senator Manny Pacquiao, who already manifested his desire to run for president.

Perhaps, the candidates for any public office in the May 9, 2022 general polls are just timid this time because of this Covid-19 pandemic that hit our country since last year and we are still reeling from its harsh and severe effect on the economy and on the emotions of everyone. Since everyone is financially affected by this pandemic, the candidates are probably experiencing difficulty in sourcing funds for their candidacy.

If my memory serves me right, I think it was sometime last year when our country was severely hit by this deadly coronavirus that President Rodrigo Duterte joked of not holding the 2022 elections. If the Barangay elections were postponed several times, why not the general elections? For senators, congressmen, governors, board members, mayors and councilors whose term will end in June 2022, would they say no? Perhaps, they cannot just verbalize it out of shame.

With the majority of the representatives in the Lower House and the senators belonging to the party in power, PDP-Laban, (although some were turncoats), at the flick of President Duterte's finger they could easily pass a law that would postpone next year's poll until 2023 or until the pandemic is over. This deadly coronavirus could be a strong and valid basis in resetting the elections next year to another year.

Of course, those wanting to replace the Duterte administration for several reasons, among them the alleged mishandling by the Department of Health (DOH) of this Covid-19 pandemic and the failure to protect the State's exclusive economic zone (EEZ) that has been gobbled up by China using its Nine-Dash line claim over the West Philippine Sea would definitely oppose any move to re-schedule next year's general elections.

The USA, despite the Covid-19 pandemic that hit all the states that account to hundreds of thousands of deaths, still conducted the November 3, 2020 general elections that put President Donald Trump out of office. But in the USA, they have a mail-in voting, which we don't have it here, where senior citizens don't have to go to their respective polling precinct to cast their votes.

The mail-in voting system could be done here if the Commission on Elections (Comelec) would recommend to Congress to pass a law. The problem, however, is that our postal service is slower than the turtle's pace, so to speak. Or, Congress passes a law on online voting since all the metropolis in the country are already fully internet connected. If we have this mode of voting, only those the able-bodied voters would troop to the polling precincts. If either of this voting system is applied here, crowding of voters in the polling precincts would be a thing of the past.

But, would Congress do it? It's a 10 cents question that no one would bother to answer.


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