Teachers in El Nido collect ballot boxes and election paraphernalia a day before the Palawan plebiscite. (File photo)

The Commission on Elections (COMELEC) is exploring the possibility of increasing the number of voting precincts in May 2022 so that social distancing may be observed.

According to Palawan COMELEC spokesperson Jomel Ordas, this means that there will be a projected increase in the number of teachers who would man polling precincts and their supplies.

“May tina-target kami na magkaroon ng additional schools para mas maraming precints. Ito rin ang dahilan kung bakit humihingi ng mas malaking budget ang COMELEC. Domino effect kasi ‘yan,” said Ordas in an interview on Saturday.

“Isa rin sa tinitingnan dito ‘yong para sa mga small schools. Katulad sa iba, minsan, sa isang school, dalawa lang ang room, o isa lang. Kapag ganoon, baka sa ibang school na lang ang ibang mga botante doon sa mga precint na iyon,” he added.

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The plans have yet to be finalized by the COMELEC. Other plans that have yet to materialize are the early voting dates for persons with disabilities (PWDs) and senior citizens.

Ordas added that in previous elections, an average of 800 to 1000 voters would enter a polling precinct. The commission is planning to reduce this number due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

As of the COMELEC’s data gathered from the 2019 national and local elections, there are a total of 4245 polling precincts in Palawan, including Puerto Princesa.

As of the COMELEC’s July 2021 data, there are a total of 665,396 registered voters in Palawan. This number includes Puerto Princesa City. Ordas explained that this number of registered voters was obtained after the commission’s quarterly Election Registration Board (ERB) hearing. During ERB hearings, the commission approves new registrants, deactivate deceased registrants, and to finalize change of registrations.

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