House passes early voting for the national and local elections

The House of Representatives has approved on second reading a measure
giving Filipino voters an option to vote earlier than the date set for
the election.

House Bill 4307, authored by Reps. Rufus Rodriguez (2nd District,
Cagayan de Oro City) and Maximo Rodriguez, Jr. (Party-list, Abante
Mindanao), allows anyone to vote at the polling place within 14
working days before the date set for a political exercise.

Rodriguez said the measure is applicable during the conduct of
national and local elections.

Citing the United States practice, Rodriguez said some American states
allow early voting during their elections. “The primary argument in
favor of early voting is that it increases turnout by making it easier
to vote,” he said.

Rodriguez said research shows that in the 24 states in America with no
excuse absentee voting, turnout increased in 2004 in the aggregate by
6.7 percent, whereas it increased 6.2 percent in the other states.

“In 11 other American states that had early voting in both 2002 and
2004, turnout increased by an aggregate average of 7.2 percentage
points as opposed to 6.2 in states without early voting,” Rodriguez
said.

Rodriguez said some election administrators also prefer early voting
because it allows them more time to process ballots, relieves some of
the strain on voting systems that occur on Election Day, cuts down
long lines, and reduces the number of poll workers needed.

The bill provides that the provisions of Republic Act 7166 or the
Omnibus Election Code and other election laws not inconsistent
herewith shall be applied to early voting.

The bill was endorsed for plenary approval by the House Committee on
Suffrage and Electoral Reforms chaired by Rep. Elpidio Barzaga, Jr.
(Lone District, Dasmariñas City).

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