Mall voting simulation in Legazpi earns positive feeback

At least 50 registered voters from Barangay Capantawan here cast their votes Saturday during a pilot test of mall voting for the Barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan Elections (BSKE). Commission on Elections (Comelec) Legazpi City election officer lawyer Connie Del Castillo said the simulation exercise at SM City Legazpi will assess the flow of the election, identify and solve the problems encountered, and make improvements. The Comelec and SM Supermalls signed a Memorandum of Agreement for the 2023 BSKE mall voting on Aug. 7 to make voting easier, comfortable and more efficient for voters in vulnerable groups. The exercise was represented by people from various sectors including pregnant, senior citizens, youth and persons with disabilities (PWD). "So far, the flow of the mock election is ok. We have representatives here from Comelec central office conducting a time and motion study, how many minutes it will take from the time they enter the voter's assistance desk up to voting proper until they finished it. A post-assessment will be submitted to see what can be done more for the upcoming BSKE on Oct. 30," Del Castillo said in an interview. "Hopefully, the turnout will be successful not just here in Legazpi City but also in other areas with mall voting," she added. Five SM malls - SM City Manila, SM City North Edsa in Quezon City, SM City Sucat in Parañaque, SM City Legazpi and SM City Consolacion in Cebu -- were tapped to participate in the mall voting. Joan Mae Astillero, who is pregnant, said the mall voting was convenient for her. "For the past two elections, medyo (a little bit) hassle kasi mainit (because it hot) in the school, and also overpopulated. For my situation as a pregnant, the venue is very convenient, the weather is not so hot, and the flow is easy," the 26-year-old Astillero said. Senior citizen Gloria Marzan favored the new designated voting area. "Mas ok, mas madali and mas masarap sa pakiramdam kasi malamig (It's better, it's easier and it feels better because it's cold) compared to before it's crowded and difficult," she said. From the PWD sector, Armando Aragon, 69, said the mall voting initiative of the government is a welcome move, particularly for those who need easier access. "Maganda 'yung accessibility, madali kami nakapagboto, keysa noon siksikan and mas comfortable para sa akin (The accessibility is good, we were able to vote easily, not like before when its crowded. It's more comfortable for me)," Aragon said. First-time voter Erica Mae Astillero, 19, said she is excited to vote come October. Legazpi City police chief, Lt. Col. Jun Aian Rojas, said the simulation was part of their preparation to ensure a clean, orderly and peaceful BSKE. "We continue to coordinate with Comelec and the Armed Forces of the Philippines and monitor the situation on the ground. So far wala pa naman kaming na momonitor na (we don't monitor) any threat in Legazpi City," Rojas said. He said they are in the process of determining hotspot areas that would need additional security. Comelec-Albay election supervisor Ma. Aurea Bo-Bunao said if the mall voting would prove to be a success, they will encourage other malls in the province to have the same arrangement.

Source: Philippines News Agency