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Over 18,000 NMI voters have registered, election official says

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AS of 3 p.m. yesterday, 18,250 voters had registered for the November midterm elections, Commonwealth Election Commission Executive Director Julita Villagomez said.

In the 2018 general elections, 18,521 cast their votes.

The deadline to register for this  year’s elections is Friday, Sept. 4.

Rep. Luis John Castro said some of his constituents in Precinct 1 told him that several voters have not registered yet because they have not been going out for fear of Covid-19. Most of these voters, he said, are either senior citizens or those with medical conditions.

Villagomez, for her part, said CEC has been reaching out to the community.

She said some voters, especially those confined at home due to a medical condition or those with disabilities, have requested “home-visit registration.”

“We’ve been doing that even in the past elections,” Villagomez said.

Some, she added, will park their vehicle outside the CEC office and ask for a registration form.

Villagomez said the commission “always caters to the needs” of such voters.

Mitigate

On Friday, the Senate unanimously passed Senate Bill 21-68, which aims to mitigate the risks of the Covid-19 pandemic in the 2020 midterm elections set for Nov. 3.

Authored by Sen. Sixto K. Igisomar, the measure 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 illness or physical disability.

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

Under S.B. 21-68, an early voting period by personal appearance will begin 21 days prior to Election Day.

Moreover, polling places for early voting will be open from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m., Monday to Sunday.

The bill 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.

Lastly, 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.”

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

He knows there is good reason for the current election time line, but “these are not normal times,” he said.

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