A Non-Governmental Organisation (NGO), Inclusive Friends Association (IFA), has urged the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to give special considerations to People Living With Disabilities (PLWDs) during elections in the country.
The NGO made the appeal in Ado-Ekiti on Wednesday when its executive, led by Grace Jerry, its Founder, paid an advocacy visit tom the INEC office in Ado-Ekiti.
According to the team lead, the organisation specialises in advocacy, training and researches into democracy, good governance and gender-based issues.
Jerry, who was represented by Tracey Onabis, said that the NGO had organised a series of sensitisation programmes where they had to call on the INEC to ensure that PLWDs would be allowed to cast their votes through television, radio, and social media campaigns ahead of general elections.
She assured them that the organisation would still conduct an awareness campaign that would encourage PLWDs to vote during the June 18 Governorship election in Ekiti.
The group also appealed to INEC to provide polling units on flat surface venues that would be accessible to PLWDs during elections.
“We want to appeal for PLWD-friendly election procedures, which will include accessibility to voting booth, giving priority to persons with disabilities to vote immediately on arrival at the polling unit.
“All voting materials, including the Braille Ballot Guide, Magnifying Glasses, form EC30E PWD, among others should be made available on election day for this category of people.
“We solicit increase in synergy between the commission and the security agencies to ensure that Form EC 30E containing written instructions be pasted in a visible location to enable persons with disabilities understand what is required of them before voting.”
According to the NGO, INEC should ensure that polling officials capture the data of PLWDs on form EC40H, as well as ensure it harvests the data captured on form EC40H which in the long run, will help it plan better and save costs.
“That INEC should intensify the demonstration of assistive materials during ad-hoc training for its effective usability.
“Ballot boxes should be positioned where they will be easily accessible to voters with disabilities to allow them independently cast their ballots and as well as adhere to the five percent recruitment requirements in the Disability Act while engaging its ad-hoc staff.
“That INEC should continue to engage and consult with the disability community, including IFA, and jointly identify areas of improvement for more inclusive and accessible electoral processes.
“All we require is an enabling environment for PLWDs to participate in the electoral and political processes of their country as indicated by their participation as both voters and observers during elections.
“We witnessed this during the Anambra governorship and Abuja Area council elections conducted recently,” she said.
In his response, the INEC Resident Electoral Commissioner in Ekiti State, Dr. Adeniran Tella, assured the NGO that PLWDs would be captured in the preparations for the forthcoming election in the state.
He noted that most of INEC’s processes in the forthcoming election would be digital, advising the PLWDs to ensure that they registered online especially those that would like to serve as ad-hoc staff.
He noted that INEC in Ekiti had prioritised root training so that Corps members and other ad-hoc staff would start training earlier than the usual one week.
He said that the commission which had discovered that the one-week training done in the past for their ad-hoc staff used to be too short for them to get accustomed to the machines they would operate on the day of election.
He said that the PLWDs should be part of the ongoing training so that the ad-hoc staff would be able to have an interface with them to know how to attend to the during the governorship election.(NAN)