Voters with disabilities demand braille version of electoral materials
Africa, September 12 2016
GHANA: Persons with Disabilities are demanding braille version of all electoral educational materials for people with vision disabilities to enable them read and understand the messages therein.
They also want the Electoral Commission, especially presiding officers to ensure that tpeople with vision disabilities receive tactile ballot jacket to aid them in casting their votes in this year’s general elections on December 7.
They accused the Electoral Commission of disenfranchising them in previous elections, claiming that some people with vision disabilities were unable to vote in the last elections due to the absence of tactile ballot jackets at most polling centres.
Elections Coordinator of the Ghana Federation of Disability Organization, Joshua Makubu, observed that people with vision disabilities feel discouraged to cast their votes with assistance from others, hence the need for adequate measures to be put in place by the Electoral Commission.
The Commission has been accused of failing to institute basic measures to support persons with disabilities to exercise their franchise in past presidential and parliamentary elections in Ghana.
According to the Federation, there are several factors militating against the effective participation of people with disabilities in the voting process, most of who end up being disenfranchised.
The Federation noted those who managed to exercise their franchise in previous elections had to do so with the assistance of other individuals, which defeats the purpose of secret balloting.
In past elections, some persons with disabilities had challenges in accessing voting centres because some polling centres were poorly sited.
Against this background, the Federation with support from STAR-Ghana, has developed a guideline document to advocate inclusion and participation of persons with disabilities in the 2016 elections.
An orientation workshop on the guidelines has been held in Kumasi for the representatives of PWDs, the Electoral Commission, National Commission for Civic Education, political parties, security services and the media.
Reacting to the Federation’s concerns, Ashanti Regional Deputy Electoral Commissioner, Lawrence Sarpong, said the EC has resolved to set up all polling stations on low grounds to ease access for every voter.
He also stated that there has been provision of tactile ballot jackets in all polling stations in the past three general elections but some presiding officers fail to give them out to people with vision disabilities.
Mr Sarpong said the Commission would ensure the visually impaired receive the tactile ballot jacket to aid in casting their votes in this year’s elections.