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Rufus urges Senate to pass Early Voting Bill

June 15, 2023 Ryan Ponce Pacpaco 144 views

CAGAYAN de Oro City 2nd District Representative Rufus Rodriguez on Thursday urged the Senate to pass the Early Voting Bill once Congress opens its second regular session next month.

He made the appeal in reaction to the plan of the Commission on Elections (Comelec) to pilot test early voting for vulnerable sectors for the October 30, 2023 Barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan Elections (BSKE).

“I suggest that our beloved senators make the approval of our House Bill No. 7576 allowing early voting for senior citizens, persons with disability, pregnant women, and other vulnerable sector members their top priority shortly after we reconvene on July,” Rodriguez said.

He said the House led by Speaker Ferdinand Martin G. Romualdez is supporting the proposed law that would “provide voting convenience to members of our population who need it.”

“It is important that Congress approves the bill soon so it could be sent to the President for signing into law ahead of the October grassroots elections,” Rodriguez said.

He added that if the measure is enacted into law in early August, that will give the Comelec about three months to prepare for and conduct an information campaign on early voting.

Rodriguez pointed out that while he commends the Comelec for planning to pilot-test advance voting, it would be better if the poll body does it with a mandate from Congress to prevent any legal issues.

The Comelec has not yet announced when it will conduct the pilot test.

HB 7576, of which Rodriguez is the principal author, was approved by the House on third and final reading last May 5 by an overwhelming vote of 259 with no negative vote and no abstention.

It was sent to the Senate on the same day.

The measure is titled “An Act providing for early voting by qualified senior citizens, persons with disabilities, lawyers, and human resources for health in national and local elections.”

The bill mandates the Comelec to conduct a separate registration for and maintain a record of those covered by the proposed law.

The poll body is also directed to launch an information campaign on early voting and to ensure that voting precincts are safe and accessible.

The Comelec is to shoulder initial expenses. Future funding requirements are to be included in the national budget.

Elections laws not inconsistent with the proposed Early Voting Law will apply to facilitate advanced voting.

The Comelec shall issue implementing rules and regulations.

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