The Campaign for Equal Voting Access for Persons with Disabilities, a program of the Centre for Citizens with Disabilities (CCD) has lamented the inadequate provision for PWDs at the Ondo State gubernatorial elections.
The group in a statement issued at the end of the elections disclosed that most polling units observed by EVAPWDs monitors do not have magnifying glasses for persons with albinism, Braille jacket and most polling units were inaccessible to wheelchair users.
The group in the statement, which was signed by David O. Anyaele, Chairman, Campaign for Equal Voting Access, appreciated Polling Units Official that offered priority voting to vulnerable groups like the aged, nursing mothers and pregnant women and persons with disabilities as a large number of Polling Units observed provided priority voting to vulnerable groups.
The statement reads in part that, “EVAPWDs observers report shows that a large number of the polling units were not accessible to physically challenged persons.
“At Polling Unit 14, Ward 10, Akure South LGA, a physically challenged voter was carried, before she could access the voting cubicle.
“The same inaccessible polling Units were observed at PU 003, Ward 011 LA II Primary School Lisaliwa, PU 025 Ward 07; PU 022 Ward 007; PU 023 Ward 007 & PU 027 Ward 007 Ondo West LGA.
“These PUs were totally not accessible for PWDs having multiple barriers, from stones, gutters & sand.”
The observers noted that braille jackets to enable Blind voters vote Independently were missing in some polling units.
“EVAPWDs observers observed that Braille jackets were not deployed in all the Polling Units as Braille Jackets were seen in Polling Units (PU005, Ward 003, PU, 036 Ward 002, PU 014, Ward 010, PU, 002, Ward 002, Akure South LGA).
“Whereas other Polling Units had no Braille Jacket (PU 001, Ward 6 Gboni, PU, 31, Ward 002, PU 29, Ward 002, Isikan, Akure South LGA).
“EVAPWD Observers were dissatisfied over the non-availability of magnifying lenses at the Polling Units observed.
“This shows that persons with sight impairment like persons with albinism were exposed to difficulties as a result of absence of magnifying lenses at the Polling Units.
“EVAPWDs also observed that significant number of Polling Units had Election Day instructional materials posted on the Polling Units.
“However, no Sign Language Interpreter was sighted at the Polling Units observed. As persons with hearing impairment struggled to benefit from priority voting at the Polls.”
EVAPWD however noted that it is “concerned about the use of charity based approach on persons with disability participation in the electoral process.
“It is obvious to note that INEC is struggling to implement its framework on Access and Participation of Persons with Disabilities in the Electoral Process and the Discrimination against Persons with Disabilities (Prohibition) Act 2018.”
The group thereafter urged “INEC to take appropriate measures to review its processes and approach on persons with disabilities participation in the electoral process.
“If persons with disabilities cannot vote during elections, it would be difficult for them to demand to be voted for, as the inaccessible electoral process is equal to exclusion.”