NGO urges INEC to prioritise voting for PWDs in Anambra

Campaign for Equal Voting Access, a Non-Governmental Organisation (NGO), said that Persons with Disabilities (PWDs) should be given priority to vote during the Anambra governorship election.

This is contained in a statement from the NGO’S Media and Publicity Directorate on Tuesday in Abuja, signed by Mr DavidAnyaele, an Executive Director.
The NGO, in its finding on preparation for participation in the Nov. 6, election urged the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to make it easy for PWDs to exercise their franchise.

The group called for full implementation of legal framework on access and participation of Persons with Disabilities in the electoral process.
According to the group, this will reduce the struggles and barriers against PWDs engagement in the electoral process.
“Persons with disabilities are generally known to be facing several environmental, institutional and attitudinal barriers that can impede on their full participation and contribution to socio-economic and political development of their society.
“Consequently, many of them suffer deprivations and denial of their rights and voting during elections.

“It has been observed as one among other citizenship rights of PWDs that is often violated and ignored.
“We, therefore, call on INEC to make adequate election materials and facilities accessible for all PWDs in the coming Anambra governorship election.
“(This is) including providing materials such as the Form EC40H, accessible polling units and assistive resources such as sign language interpreters, tactile ballot jackets and magnifying lenses,” it said.

The NGO also advised the commission to adequately train polling stations officials to understand and respond to PWD needs, sensitise the public to their needs and challenges to reverse negative public perceptions and attitudes.
“It should also recruit volunteer sign language interpreters to support the activities of deaf voters; the voters should go to their various polling centres with personal sign language interpreters to minimise communication gap.

“INEC should collaborate with the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control, security agencies and other stakeholders to fully implement health and safety protocols during voting and result collation,” it stated.
The group said that there was also a need for INEC to provide disability desk and desk officers at the various polling centres.

The group also appealed to the commission to provide umbrellas and temporary shades for albinos and allow them vote early to avoid being disenfranchised due to the harsh effect of sunrays.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the objectives for the campaign include sensitising stakeholders on equal voting, access for PWDs during elections and mobilising PWDs participation in elections.

The group’s activities are being implemented and coordinated by the Centre for Citizens with Disabilities.(NAN)