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Senate OKs election bill

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THE Senate on Friday unanimously passed Senate Bill 21-68, which aims to mitigate the risks of the Covid-19 pandemic in the Nov. 3 midterm elections.

The Senate session was held in the Rota Mayor’s Office conference room at 10:30 a.m.

Authored by Sen. Sixto K. Igisomar, S.B. 21-68 was transmitted to the House of Representatives on Monday.

The bill will allow early voting for registered voters who are unable to go to the polling precincts because they are confined at home or at the hospital due to an illness or physical disability.

The bill also permits the voter or a member of his or her immediate family or guardian to make a written request for absentee ballot during the early-voting period.

In addition, S.B. 21-68 proposes that an early-voting period by personal appearance begin 21 days prior to Election Day, up to 8 p.m.

In an interview, Rep. Luis John Castro said he will ask his colleagues in the House to act expeditiously on the measure because he has been receiving calls that several voters were not able to register due to concerns about Covid-19.

He said voters, especially the absentee voters, would like an extended period for registration.

Castro said this is something that the Commonwealth Election Commission must consider. He knows there is good reason for strictly setting a time line, but “these are not normal times,” he added.

Igisomar’s bill will require that polling places for early voting remain open from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m., Monday to Sunday.

The measure will likewise authorize the Commonwealth Election Commission to make changes to the election procedures if necessary. These include designating more polling places to adhere to social-distancing protocols.

Moreover, the bill proposes curbside voting so registered voters may vote in his or her vehicle at a designated curbside polling place   “to diminish or reduce the voter’s exposure to the Covid-19 public health threat.”

 

November 2020 pssnewsletter

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