The Commission on Elections (Comelec) will require at least P8 billion more to manage a lower number of registered voters per clustered precinct during the national and local elections in 2022. 

Caloocan Representative Edgar Erice mentioned the need during the Joint Congressional Oversight Committee on the Automated Election System (JCOC) hearing, noting that the budget is needed to lower the number of voters per clustered precinct to follow the health protocols at the 2022 elections.

Erice explained that extending the voting hours to 12 to 14 hours won’t be sufficient to ensure that social distancing will be enforced. 

Around 10,000 vote counting machines (VCMs) are required to meet the plan of reducing the number of voters in every precinct, according to poll commissioner Marlon Casquejo.

Currently, the number of VCMs are enough to serve 1,000 voters per clustered precinct. 

“In the 2022 elections, nabigyan kami ng additional P500 million budget but we need P1 billion for the additional 10,000 VCMs. So medyo kinulang pa rin tayo pero may mga savings naman ang Comelec pwede natin idagdag para sa additional 10,000 VCMs,” he said.

“So the cost of 10,000 [VCMs] is roughly additional P1 billion plus the manpower for the additional clustered precincts, our electoral boards, and the support and everything, as computed by the finance department we need at least I think P8 billion. I guess ‘yun ang naging computation last time,” he said.

Reducing the number of voters per clustered precinct to 600 requires at least 20,000 more VCMs, Casquejo said. Ronald Espartinez