The Campaign for Equal Voting Access for Persons with Disabilities (EVAPWD), a program of the Centre for Citizens with Disabilities (CCD), has released its observations on the March 18, 2023, Governorship and States House of Assembly Elections organized by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) in Nigeria.
The observation exercise aimed to assess INEC’s compliance with provisions made for persons with disabilities to participate in the election, as well as to raise awareness on equal voting rights for citizens with disabilities.
EVAPWD reported that the majority of the polling units visited had started the polls early, with most of them prioritizing the voting rights of persons with disabilities, the aged, nursing mothers, and pregnant women.
INEC ad-hoc officials had placed significant numbers of Polling Units in open fields and had also placed ballot boxes on the floor for voters on wheelchairs and with other disabilities.
However, some polling units were still not accessible to physically challenged voters, which could discourage them from casting their votes. Braille guides were also scarce, with most polling units lacking assistive devices.
While Form EC40H was available in visited polling units, the level of security provided by security agencies was disappointing, as there were no security operatives available in some polling units. In some cases, there were high levels of threats and voter suppression.
Despite these challenges, EVAPWD commended INEC and other election stakeholders for conducting the elections after an earlier postponement.
The report also encouraged election stakeholders to work together to address the challenges faced by persons with disabilities and ensure that their voting rights are protected in future elections.