MANILA — For the May 9 national and local elections voters will only have 10 hours to vote.

This, as the Commission on Elections (Comelec) has decided to shorten the voting hours from 7:00 am to 7:00 pm to 7:00 am to 5:00 pm.

According to Comelec Chairman Juan Andres Bautista, the commission en banc decided to change the voting hours since the number of voters in clustered precincts were brought down to 800 from 1,000 voters.

“The en banc decided to change the number of hours of voting. Before its 7 am – 7 pm. But now (7 am-5 pm) because we were able to bring down the number of voters for each clustered precincts from 1,000 to 800,” he said in a press briefing on Wednesday.

Bautista noted that they also wanted to encourage voters to vote early and since the work of Board of Elections Inspectors (BEIs) did not end when the voting precincts closes as they had to stay there until the last vote was counted and results were transmitted.

“As much as possible gusto eating hikayatin na bumoto ng mama and also alam naman natin ang trabaho ng BEI does not stop after magclose ng polling precincts. Madami pang dapat gawin including transmitting the results,” he explained.

Bautista added that they would also follow the rule when it is 4:30 pm on Election Day, and the voter’s are 30 meters from the polling precincts they will be allowed to vote, they will be given a number.

“Mas maganda na mas iklian ang oras ng pagboto and another thing gusto namin mas maliwanag pa tapos na ang bootohan,” he said.

In the 2013 midterm polls, polling places were open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m., thus giving voters 12 hours to vote.

Meanwhile, Commissioner Christian Robert Lim said that for 800 voters,m they were expecting a turn out of 75 to 80 percent.

“Kapag 800 we are expecting a turn out of 75 percent to 80 percent. So the actual turn out will be about 600 voters,” he added.

The poll body official also reiterated the 30 minutes rule before closing time.

“Ang rule we always follow is 30 minutes before closing time, BEI or BEI members will go around announcing they are closing in 30 minutes,” he added. Ferdinand G. Patinio/PNA/