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Senator Imee Marcos on Tuesday defended her bill providing for mail-in voting during elections, emphasizing that thousands of vulnerable citizens may be unable to vote in the 2022 polls unless a more socially sensitive and convenient voting system for them is put in place.

“Let’s not discriminate against senior citizens, pregnant women, persons with disability (PWDs), and indigenous peoples (IPs) who should be given the option to mail in their votes,” said the author of Senate Bill 1870, or the Voting By Mail Act.

“The risk of their being disenfranchised is high due to their state of health and relative distance from polling precincts, especially if the Covid-19 pandemic persists,” Marcos said.

“We can’t continue to turn a blind eye to the difficulties they always go through during elections,” Marcos added.

She was responding to concerns expressed by her colleagues, including Senate President Tito Sotto and Senate Minority Leader Frank Drilon.

Marcos, who chairs the Senate committee on electoral reforms, downplayed her colleagues’ fears that voting by mail was less secure than via an electronic system, citing that overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) have cast their votes through the postal system in past elections.

“Actually, mail-in voting won’t be anything new in our laws since it’s been done before by our seafarers and OFWs in Italy and other countries,” she said.

“Pilot tests will be conducted to check the system on the scale of domestic elections, Marcos assured.

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