Inmates get to vote on May 13

JAIL officials and the Commission on Elections (Comelec) are finalizing plans for detainees at Baguio City Jail to cast their votes on May 13.

Wilson Banasen, Baguio City Jail warden for men chief inspector, said more than 100 male inmates will cast their votes inside the jail with the help of two special Board of Election Inspectors assigned by Comelec to assist in election activities inside the special polling precinct in jail.

Chief Inspector Mary Ann Tresmanio, Baguio City Jail warden for women, said the multipurpose hall of the city jail will be converted into a special polling precinct on Election Day.

Banasen said the Comelec staff will direct the police to get ballots of registered inmates in their respective polling precincts and bring them to the special polling precincts for the inmates to cast their votes.

After the inmates cast their vote, police will deliver the official ballots to polling precincts to be entered into the Precinct Count Optical Scan (PCOS) machines for their votes to be counted.

Banasen said they anticipate difficulty in transporting these ballots in various polling precincts with their limited vehicles but stressed the successful conduct of special voting previously.

He said that based on their satellite registration conducted last year, some 122 inmates are qualified to vote in the forthcoming elections. He, however, said this number has decreased as some detainees were already released.

Comelec regional director Jose Nick Mendros said inmates numbering 50 to 100 are entitled to a polling precinct.

Mendros said election officers have coordinated with the Bureau of Jail Management and Penology (BJMP) to assess jails which have more than 50 detained registered voters.

Comelec Resolution 9371 states that detainee voting, either through the special polling place inside jails or escorted voting, may be availed of by any registered detainee whose registration record is not transferred, deactivated, cancelled or deleted.

The resolution also emphasizes that special polling places must be established in an area inside the jail spacious enough to accommodate more than 10 voters at a given time to ensure voting is completed while there is still sufficient time to deliver the accomplished ballots to the different precincts where detainees are registered. The guidelines on the physical set-up of regular polling places apply to special polling places in jails.

Only members and support staff of the Special Board of Election Inspectors; watchers must stay only in the space reserved for them; monitoring groups staying in space for watchers; representatives of the Commission on Human Rights; detainee voters accomplishing their ballots or waiting for their turn to accomplish their ballots; at least three BJMP personnel staying also in the space for watchers are allowed in the special polling precinct.
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