Amid the health protocols in place, such as physical distancing and controlling the number of people in a room, one of the challenges facing the Commission on Elections (Comelec) is how to expedite the 2022 elections.
At last record, there were more than 61 million registered voters for the election.
One visible solution of the Comelec is to increase the number of vote-counting machines (VCMs).
Currently, the agency has 97,000 VCMs, but it lacks because it turns out 1,000 voters are some per VCM.
It planned to rent 10,000 more VCMs, but due to the low budget amount, Smartmatic, which is the sole bidder in the contract, rejected it.
The Comelec is now considering increasing the contract value.
But even if we add 10,000 VCMs, it still lacks because some lawmakers want to make only 600 voters per VCM.
That means 20,000 VCMs worth up to P2 billion in rent, in addition to teachers’ fees, and will serve in the election.
“As computed by our finance department, we need at least an additional of P8 billion, I guess,” said Comelec Commissioner Marlon Casquejo.
Comelec plans to make voting faster in 2022
“Maliit lang na halaga yun para sa safety ng mga voters, para sa mas maayos na eleksyon. Ka-halaga lang yun ng face shield, P8 billion,” said Caloocan Rep. Edgar Erice.
The Comelec first rejected the suggestion of vaccine czar Carlito Galvez, Jr. holding the election for 2 or more days.
It is said that the cost is doubled, especially since the Comelec also has to pay the teachers and others who will serve in the election.
What is clear now, according to Casquejo, is that the voting hours will be extended, but even this is a problem for the commission because the DBM has cut Comelec’s proposed budget by P15 billion.
“Baka magkarooon tayo ng 5-hour extension tapos hindi natin mabigyan ng additional honorarium o additional personnel ang ating voting centers. Isa yan sa tinitingnan namin kaya nga lang we are still dependent on the budget given to us,” the official said.