The Campaign for Equal Voting Access for Persons with Disabilities (EVAPWD), a program of the Centre for Citizens with Disabilities (CCD) has decried the non-provision of assistive devices to aid the seamless participation of Persons with Disabilities in the recently concluded Ekiti State Governorship Election organized by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).
EVAPWD, which participated and deployed electoral observers across the state, noted that its monitors did not observe nor sight any assistive device in all the polling units visited.
Though EVAPWD commended INEC for ensuring that marginalized populations – the aged, nursing mothers and pregnant women, and persons with disabilities – were offered priority voting in most of the polling units observed, the group believe that the non-provision of assistive devices for PWDs indicates the low commitment of the electoral umpire to implement the Electoral Act.
The statement issued by David Anyaele, Chairman, Campaign for Equal Voting Access, reads in part, “EVAPWD Observers did not see any magnifying glasses at the Polling Units observed. When Adhoc Staff were asked about this material, they told EVAPWD Observers that it is not available.
“EVAPWD also observed that Information, Education and Communication (IEC) materials such as Election Day instructions and guidelines to assist the deaf or persons with hearing impairment understanding of voting process were not available in all the polling units visited.
“EVAPWD observers report shows that large numbers of the polling units were not accessible to physically challenged persons. These polling units were sited in difficult places such as buildings without ramps/handrails, across gutters, staircases, etc.
“The worse we observed was locating of a Polling Unit in a basement at PU 004, Ward 002, near Odo-Ado market, Ado-Ekiti LGA with no provisional elevators nor ramp to assist physically challenged voters.”
The group thereafter noted that “By this singular act, INEC has displayed a minimal commitment to the implementation of the Electoral Act, INEC 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 urged INEC to address the identified issues, especially in preparation for the Osun State Governorship election in July.