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  • International Good Practices (PwDs)

    1. 1

      MOLDOVA

      Access of persons with disabilities to the electoral process in the Republic of Moldova: achievements and perspectives  General information  The number of stable population in the Republic of Moldova is around 3 557,6 thousand persons. According to the State Register of Voters, a number of 3.2 million citizens with the right to vote are registered. According to the data of the Ministry of Labor, Social Protection, and Family, the total number of the persons with disabilities accounts for 183 415 persons, representing about 5.2% of the total population.  Central Electoral Commission of the Republic of Moldova pays a special attention to enhance the accessibility of the electoral process for the persons with disabilities. This represents one of the main objectives of the institution, also established in its Strategic Plan for 2016-2019. The voters with special needs were not subject to international observation. The monitoring reports of the biggest observer’s mission, OSCE/ODIHR reveal that the following categories of voters were most frequently under focus: the ones residing abroad, ethnical minorities, voters from the separatist region of Transnistria, and women.  The participation of persons with disabilities in voting has represented a topic of observation for one national nongovernmental organization, during the Parliamentary elections in 2009, 2014 and the local elections in 2011. The mass-media monitoring reports during the electoral campaigns also do not reflect to what extent the persons with hearing and visual disabilities had access to the information about the candidates or about their electoral platforms.  More than a half of the polling stations are opened in public buildings. According to the data revealed by the Ombudsman reports, about 46% of the public buildings (premises of public institutions and authorities, law enforcement bodies, courts, etc.), complied to a certain extent with the accessibility conditions set for persons with mobility disabilities.  Starting with 2015, Central Electoral Commission (CEC) and the Center for Continuous Electoral Training under the CEC, have assessed the accessibility of the polling stations established in the country through the interview method and questionnaires addressed to the polling stations officers. Only 15% of them met the technical access conditions for the persons in wheelchairs.  Characteristics of the electoral system in the Republic of Moldova  The citizens elect via direct vote: the Parliament, local public administration and the President of the Republic.   The voting right is held by the citizens who have turned 18 years old, except for those who have been deprived of the respective right. One single restriction is set for the exercised of the right to elect and to be elected – the persons whose incapability has been recognized by a final court decision. This provision refers to the persons who “as a result of a mental disorder (mental disease or mental deficiency) cannot be aware of or manage their actions” (Civil Code, art. 24). This category of citizens also covers the persons with psycho-social disabilities. Currently, a draft law initiated by the Ministry of Labor, Social Protection and Family to abolish the respective restriction undergoes the legislative process of the Parliament. The given draft was positively endorsed by the Central Election Commission. The Electoral Code of the Republic of Moldova regulates 3 voting possibilities:  ordinary voting – according to the general procedures (art.53, par. 1).  assisted voting (art. 54, par. 1) - provided when the “Voter cannot fill in all by himself/herself the voting ballot and is entitled to invite in the voting booth another person, except for the members of the precinct electoral bureau, representatives of the electoral candidates and of the persons authorized to assist the electoral operations. These cases shall be registered separately in the report of the precinct electoral bureau”.  The assisted voting may be considered both, in case of persons with different disabilities, as well as in case of other persons (e.g. illiterate persons, persons with reading deficiencies). voting at the place of stay(with the mobile ballot box) (art. 55 par.4) - if due to health reasons or any other well-grounded reasons, the voter cannot come to the voting premises, the precinct electoral bureau shall appoint, upon the voter’s written request, at least 2 members of the bureau who will go with a mobile voting box and the necessary material for voting to the place where the voter stays, for him/her to vote. The requests may be lodged in written form, starting with 2 weeks before the voting day till 18.00 o’clock of the day preceding Election Day. During the Election Day, the requests may be lodged in written form till 15.00 o’clock, if a medical certificate is presented. These persons vote according to the voters’ list for voting at the place of stay, compiled by the precinct electoral bureau based on such voters’ requests, and the persons who are not included in such a list cannot vote at the place of stay. In the voters’ list, the note “voted at the place of stay” is mentioned in the row with the name of the respective person. These provisions may be also applied in case of the persons with disabilities.   Legislative safeguards     The UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities was signed by the Republic of Moldova on March 30, 2007 and ratified by the Parliament on July 9, 2010. For the purpose of implementing the UN Convention, the Parliament has adopted the Law No. 60 dated 30.03.2012 on Social Inclusion of Persons with Disabilities, guaranteeing a number of rights to participate in public life and provides for:  the right to adequate, accessible and easily understood and used voting procedures and materials (implementation of alternative voting modalities),   the right to free opinion about political parties and their candidates, including by organization of electoral debates and radio/TV shows in mimic-gesture language, printing out electoral materials using the writing systems used by the persons with visual deficiency, and by using other information tools accessible for persons with disabilities.    The Electoral Code of the Republic of Moldova, that regulates the organization of all types of elections and referendum, sets forth that the premises of the polling stations should be established, as a rule, in public buildings and shall be equipped so as to facilitate the access of elderly persons and persons with disabilities. The task to endow the respective premises with everything that is necessary is held by the local public authorities. CEC has only the role of developing the regulatory framework for uniform enforcement of the legislation in the area. Hence, via one of its decisions, the CEC provided for the polling premises to be established only at the first floor of building, in more accessible places.   Also, the Commission has approved and adjusted its own normative acts. Before the parliamentary elections from 2014, the CEC has approved an Instruction regarding the infrastructure of the polling station. This document sets forth the conditions to be met by the premises of the polling stations for conducting the voting process in good conditions. Thus, based on CEC’s request, the local public authorities (LPA) have organized the polling stations at the first floor of buildings so as to facilitate the access of persons with special needs.    In April 2015, before local elections, CEC has amended the Regulation on the electoral campaign media coverage that established recommendation for all electoral subjects to ensure accessibility of disseminated information to people with special needs by all available means - subtitles, sign language language etc.    In 2015 CEC also adopted the Declaration on the accessibility of the electoral process for disabled persons that later was transformed into the Regulation on the accessibility of the electoral process for people with disabilities (26/01/2016). According to this documents the Commission has taken the obligation to broadcast informative spots with the translation in sign language, to equip polling stations with informative and illustrative materials with enlarged font, and to adjust its websites to easily accessible format for the persons with visual impairments. The Precinct Electoral Bureaus were given the task to provide the necessary assistance for persons with disabilities and/or those with special needs. At the same time, the local public authorities were asked to adapt the polling stations, as well as the roads/paths to this polling stations, to the needs of the voters with disabilities. The documents called for political parties, election candidates and media that broadcast the electoral events, to ensure the information of voters with visual and / or hearing impairments by alternative means.   Recent achievements of the Central Election Commission    CEC cooperates actively with the civil society organizations dealing with promotion of rights and interests of the persons with special needs, so as to identify solutions for ensuring personal exercise of the right to vote.    During the parliamentary elections from 2010, CEC tested in a pilot project, a solution for the blind persons to vote without assistance. It included the use of a template-envelope with the help of which the voter identified the preferred electoral candidate. The template-envelope was manufactured of some hard material (carton), having the form and the size of the ballot paper, and having some circles cut in it, which coincided with the circles printed on the ballot paper, within which the voter should apply the stamp “voted” in line with the preferred electoral candidate, according to the rules of the Electoral Code. The ballot paper was introduced in this envelope, the voter was palpating with the fingers the cut holes, afterwards identifying the preferred candidates and applying the stamp “voted”. Hence, the voter did not need any assistance anymore. A polling station was equipped with such a template-envelope, around which persons with visual disabilities live compactly. The project was extended during the Parliamentary Elections in 2014.   Starting with General Local Elections of 2015, all the opened polling stations are equipped with special envelopes (2 envelopes per station). They were improved – besides the perforated circles (for the application of voting stamp), it had the order numbers of the candidates in Braille language. The design of the envelop permits the voter to use it independently.   Remark: the ballot is organized in a linear form, all the electoral candidates are listed from the top to the bottom in the order of their registration, maintaining the same positions during the entire electoral campaign, except for the cases when they withdraw from campaigning.   A new tool meant to facilitate the electoral procedures for the blind persons and persons with poor eyesight was implemented starting in 2011 – the special rulers for identifying the voter in the voters’ list. This ruler contains two cuts, which correspond to the respective fields in the list: name and signature of the voter. This cut helps the blind voter to sign within the quadrangle exactly in line with his/her name in the list.    It was for the first time during the 2014 parliamentary elections when CEC has standardized the electoral logistics equipment. Special voting booths (with the size of  50 cm*30cm*150cm) were procured for the persons with mobile disabilities or other persons with special needs. In case of persons with visual disabilities, the voting booths were equipped with additional light source. To facilitate the access of persons with mobile disabilities in the polling station, special ramps were established at the entrance of some polling stations. These premises were selected together with the local public authorities and “Motivation” NGO.   For the presidential elections of 2016, CEC has equipped all the polling stations with magnifying glasses, for voting of persons with partial visual impairments. Also, the Commission approved the implementation of the project „Social policies for realization of electoral rights by persons with disabilities” by a group of NGOs. The project provided two opportunities: the first is to offer the persons with visual impairments to vote by using TV closed systems (STVCI) that will be installed in polling stations and the second -   to facilitate, by request, the communication process for persons with hearing impairments.  STVCI systems were installed in 3 polling stations. The interpreters for persons with hearing impairments were present in 3 polling stations from the capital. For the successful electoral education and information of persons with disabilities about the voting procedures, CEC has developed and printed, in cooperation with NGOs, the Voter’s Guide in Braille language. There was developed the audio version of this guide and a poster which shows the voting procedure. Also we shoot a methodical-didactic film "Direct and Secret Voting of Persons with Disabilities through the Special Envelope" and organized trainings for the voters with special needs All these informative materials are sent via mail to all the territorial organizations of impaired persons from Moldova. As well, trainings. Information campaigns conducted by CEC, namely video spots, are produced with sign language translation and subtitles. Similarly, press briefings and meetings of the CEC from the Elections Day, are assisted by the sign language interpreters. Also, the trainings for the electoral officials from lower electoral bodies, held by the Center for Electoral Training, includes a module dedicated to the insuring of the accessibility of the polling station, including behavior rules of the polling stations officers when they are dealing with persons with disabilities.  Inclusion of persons with disabilities in organizing the voting process  It was for the first time, during the parliamentary elections on November 30, 2014, when a person with mobile disabilities was included as member of a precinct electoral bureau. CEC organizes information campaigns to encourage the voters with special needs to become future members of electoral bodies.  As well, during the parliamentary elections in November 2014, the CEC has accredited 31 national observers from the “Motivation” Association from Moldova, of whom 16 are persons with mobile disabilities and 2 – with heating disabilities. Objectives to be achieved by CEC in the area of inclusion of persons with special needs  CEC’s short-term objectives in the area of accessibility to voting: setting a special column in the State Register of Voters dedicated to persons with special needs: this group of persons will be easily identified and thus it will be known to which polling stations to provide special attention. Preparation of an interactive map of the polling station, that will include information on accessibility; involving more persons with disabilities as electoral officials (members of precinct electoral bureaus); completing the normative framework with provisions related to the binding duty to ensure mimic-gesture translation of all informative materials related to electoral topics and of the electoral debates organized at the radio and TV;   CEC’s long-term objectives in the area of accessibility to voting: improving continuously the normative acts so as to ensure full accessibility of the polling stations and to facilitate the electoral procedures for the persons with disabilities; developing alternative voting means: remote voting, voting with the help of special equipment for blind persons. 
    2. 2

      AFGHANISTAN

      Contributing a Voice; Voter Education Campaigns                    Introduction  Afghanistan has a total population of about 33 million. Going by the 15% estimate laid down by WHO, the population with a disability is estimated at 5 million. Afghanistan ratified the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities on 18 September, 2012. The democracy and the electoral processes have evolved in Afghanistan in recent past in a sustained manner. The Joint Electoral Management Body followed by the Independent Election Commission, despite the challenges before them, have initiated the voter education process in Afghanistan with the help of  international organizations such as IFES, UNDP etc besides the in house activities. Separate Media Commission under the IEC has been established under the law to ensure fair access to the public mass media.  Voter Education Voter education campaign has been carried out by the EMB in Afghanistan through posters and leaflets.The Posters, some of which are discussed as follows, convey a focused message of encouragement to different categories of voters including PwD’s for participation in the electoral process  Contributing a Voice The poster illustration shown below is part of a voter education presentation that was used to explain as to how a successful vote leads to an elected official joining Afghanistan's government. It was produced by the Joint Electoral Management Body (JEMB) and supported by the United Nations Office for Project Services (UNOPS) and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) for the 2005 election.   Voting on Election Day The inclusive illustration shown below was part of a series of voter education posters produced by the IEC, Afghanistan to support understanding of voting procedures and encourages the PwD’s also before the Election.  Registered voters  The illustration shown above was part of a series of voter education posters produced by the IEC. It explains as to how to register as a voter before the election in simple yet effective manner. Emphasis on accessible election is also projected in the poster. ( Source; Independent Election Commission of Afghanistan)  
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      ARMENIA

      The Disabled Center for Development of Education and Culture (PAROS) led a coalition of 9 disability organizations to implement a project supported by IFES designed to empower Armenians with disabilities to participate in the 2007 and 2008 elections for the National Assembly (parliament) and Presidency. The national program on disability awareness and enfranchisement made the elections amongst the most accessible and inclusive in the history of Armenia.   PAROS led the development of an informational campaign to raise awareness on the equal rights of Armenians with disabilities, including political and electoral rights. A series of televised public service announcements were aired nationally and Armenian journalists provided positive media attention on project activities (such as the development of a tactile ballot guide).  An increased awareness of disability rights was complemented by strong support from the Armenian government and endorsements by high-ranking elected officials and election candidates. 
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      CANADA

      Elections Canada: Accessibility Policy and Service Offering for Persons with Disabilities   Introduction Elections Canada is an independent, non-partisan agency that reports directly to the Parliament of Canada. EC’s important responsibilities include conducting federal elections, by-elections and referendums. EC’s long-term vision envisages accessibility to be an ongoing process to provide inclusive, universal and flexible services that benefit everyone and in the recent years they have specially focused on reducing barriers for people with disabilities.  Policy for People with Disabilities EC developed the current policy for People with Disabilities (PwD’s) in February 2015 in consultation with EC’s Advisory Group for Disability Issues.  EC launched this Advisory Group in 2014 to fulfill its commitment to ongoing consultations with groups that represent people with disabilities. An early outcome of this consultation came in February 2015, with the development of an Accessibility Policy and Service Offering.  Accessibility EC is committed to inclusive, universal and varied services that respond to the needs of all electors. The Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms guarantees the right to vote in federal elections in Canada. The Canada Elections Act provides for a variety of voting methods and allows the Chief Electoral Officer to advertise the services it offers for assisting voters with disabilities. EC has worked to remove the obstacles voters may encounter by making continual improvements to the electoral process, including communications and administrative processes. To ensure accessibility, the voting process includes the following features: Flexible voting methods: voting by mail or at a local Elections Canada office; advance voting days; mobile polls serving facilities for seniors or persons with physical disabilities; and, in special cases, voting at home in the presence of an election officer and a witness. As much as possible, level access to local Elections Canada offices, polling stations and other premises used during an election. In the event that a polling station does not have level access, provision of a transfer certificate on request and permission to vote at another location. If requested in advance, sign language interpreters to assist electors at the polls. The ability to have an election officer, a friend or a relative to assist an elector with a disability in marking his or her ballot at the poll. Voting screens that admit plenty of light, lighted magnifiers to make the ballot easier to read, Braille and large-print lists of candidates on Election Day and tactile and Braille templates that fit on top of a ballot. Requisite training to election officers and community relations officers for meeting the accessibility needs of people with varied disabilities.    Policy, a Living Document EC intends to continue working with the disability community to better understand accessibility issues and reduce barriers. Accessibility policy and Service Offering document has a specific focus on the tools and services that people with disabilities can expect when they vote. This document is intended as a "living" document to be updated following the next general election in light of accessibility best practices, evaluations and as new opportunities for improvements arise. Among other things, the policy describes the mechanism for feedback, complaints and inquiries from individuals concerning accessibility. Elections Canada welcomes any input that will help it to better serve PwD’s.  Questions or feedback on this policy may be provided to EC online at 1-800-463-6868. EC’s Commitment EC is committed to building upon the accessible electoral framework that Canadians trust and use, to be responsive to the needs of Canadians of all abilities, to working to accommodate voters and employees with disabilities, to make the voting experience as accessible as possible and to engage people with disabilities about the services that affect them. In this context, EC is committed to adopting the following principles: Design for choice and flexibility  by thinking inclusively. Educate and inform Canadians using plain language. Provide Canadians with modern and convenient ways to access information, register and vote. Improve the voting experience and make it easier to participate by removing barriers. Support the independence, and respect the dignity, of people with disabilities.   Accessibility Initiatives  Elections Canada works on a continued basis to remove the obstacles voters may encounter by making improvements to the electoral process, including communication and administrative processes. Since the last general election in 2011, EC has implemented a series of measures to improve the accessibility of the electoral process. These include: Enhanced and expanded cross-disability training for both election workers and Elections Canada staff. Increased investment in community outreach for people with disabilities. Improved signage and voting screens at polling places. New voting tools such as magnifiers and Braille lists of candidates. A polling place accessibility review process that follows a new checklist of 35 accessibility criteria. Improvements to website accessibility ( see Link for details). A revamped communications campaign that presents information in plain language and in accessible formats. Greater consultation and outreach programs to share information.  EC works with national and provincial organizations and, through their networks, gain an additional way to reach people with disabilities.   Informed by Consultation and Research Elections Canada's ongoing accessibility initiatives build upon research and consultation undertaken since the last general election in 2011. In 2011–2012, Elections Canada met with 19 national and provincial disability organizations across Canada. The goal of this exercise was to build better relationships with the disability community and gain a better understanding of its needs and the barriers that people face. In 2014, Elections Canada launched its first ever Advisory Group for Disability Issues.  The Voting Experience – Tools and Services at Polling Places Polling Places  In consultation with experts and the disability community EC has developed accessibility criteria for polling stations. The returning officers use Accessibility Checklist to evaluate the accessibility of potential sites prior to the election. This checklist contains 35 criteria, 15 of which are mandatory. After an election is called, EC sends out a voter information card to all registered voters indicating the accessibility of polling places with the following information, in one of three ways: The site meets 15 accessibility criteria. The accessibility symbol is displayed, along with where to find more information. The site is wheelchair accessible. The accessibility symbol is displayed, along with the phone number that you can call for help. The site has no wheelchair access. The accessibility symbol is not displayed, but voters are encouraged to call their returning office for alternate location.    Voter Information Service also provides complete details of accessibility to the concerned voters. EC’s help lines also provide guidance. Tools and Services EC provides a variety of tools and services for PwD’s:  Magnifiers with light (4x) A tactile and Braille voting template that fits on top of a ballot Large-print lists of candidates Braille lists of candidates (available on election day only) Language or sign language interpretation (to be requested in advance) Assistance in marking a ballot Improved voting screens that let in more light Information through video if required.   Language or Sign language interpretation If a voter requires language or sign-language interpretation on Election Day, he may request Elections Canada to provide the service as per time prescribed. Online service through TTY is also made available Service Animals Elections Canada supports the use of service animals to assist voters with disabilities when they go vote at polling places. Election workers are fully aware that service animals are working animals and should not be distracted, spoken to or offered food. Assistance from Others Voters with disabilities may require the assistance of a support person to help them vote. Support people provide assistance to a person with a disability and may be a family member, friend, personal support worker, intervener or sign-language interpreter. The support person will be required to take an oath to respect the secrecy of the voter's choice. A deputy returning officer can also help a voter mark the ballot. This will always be done in full view of a poll clerk.  Assistive Devices Voters with disabilities, in particular people with a visual impairment, may use a personal mobile device, such as a smart phone, to read their ballot behind the voting screen. All reasonable steps should be taken to preserve the secrecy of the vote.  Community Relations Officers for Accessibility The Community Relations Officer program was created to reduce barriers to voting faced by certain groups of voters. Officers provide information on when, where and ways to register and vote as well as the tools and services available to voters. EC has added community relations officers for accessibility across Canada to engage voters with disabilities and local organizations, and to serve as a resource to the returning officer. Additionally, information on accessibility has been included in a new communications booklet and toolkit provided to all community relations officers. Training for Election Workers The training program takes into consideration the time constraints associated with training electoral officers and incorporates in-class and online training. Our online training modules, including videos, are fully accessible and have been tested by people with disabilities. Elections Canada's accessibility training: Makes election workers aware of accessibility tools at the polling place. Provides tips on how to maintain these accessibility features. Makes election workers aware of various tools available to voters, and Educates them on how to approach a voter who may require assistance.   EC’s Website The Elections Canada website is compliant with the federal standard on web accessibility, which follows World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) accessibility guidelines (version 2, level AA). EC is always working to improve the website's accessibility.  
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      DOMINICAN REPUBLIC

      Dominican Republic: ‘Right to Choose Project’ for Person with Disabilities Introduction Dominican Republic has a population of 10 million of which 1.2 million persons are estimated to be with a disability which means 11.9 percent of the population. Dominican Republic ratified the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities in August, 2009. This ratification strengthened the regulatory framework and efforts for inclusion inter alia for the equal voting rights and access. Legislative provisions  Article 121 of the Electoral law provides for assistance to the electors with disabilities to the extent that an individual trusted by such voter may accompany him to the polling booth and help him in preparing the ballot with the condition that such a person is not permitted to be too close to see or hear whatever is done or said while the ballot is being prepared. Article 23 of the National Law on People with Disabilities, 2013 provides that people with disabilities enjoy and experience legal capacity in equal conditions as the rest of the individuals in all aspects of life.  Plan of the Decade of the Americas for the Rights and Dignity of Persons with Disabilities in the Dominican Republic (2006-2016).  This plan establishes the responsibility of States to ensure recognition and exercise of the civil and political rights of people with disabilities in all matters of interest to the community.  Barriers to Electoral and Political Participation In spite of implementation of initiatives by the Dominican Republic, barriers still persisted against people with disabilities in exercise of their civil and political rights. In addition, inclusion may also be hindered due to discrimination and stigma towards people with disabilities. Different types of barriers faced by people with disabilities included mobility, cognitive, sensory, and psycho-social, communications besides information barriers. ‘Right to Choose Project’ for PwD’s  ‘Right to Choose Project’ was started in April 2012. The project aims at inclusion of PwD’s in the Electoral and Political processes of the country and seeks to motivate key public officials for creation and strengthening the conditions for inclusion in political participation. The main objective was to increase awareness through broad based engagement and consequent improvement in participation of PwD’s in political and electoral process. The project was established by La Red Ibero-americana de Entidades de Personas con Disacapacidad Fiscia (La Red), a Latin American network of organizations of persons with physical disabilities. The project emerged from the context of 2012 presidential elections through coordination of organizations such as the International Foundation for Electoral Systems (IFES), La Red, the Dominican Republic Central Electoral Board (JCE) and a host of other sister organizations that played an important role in the project.  The National Council on Disability (CONADIS) provided support and collaboration with the implementation of sensitization activities. Approach The project approached the challenge through establishment of National Observatory for the project with a vision to assess and oversee the inclusion. It aimed at following objectives: Inclusion of people with disabilities in the electoral and political processes.  To act as a new platform to oversee and monitor best practices and lessons learned from the electoral process.  The Observatory included a team of 20 community leaders who were themselves PwD’s from ten provinces in the country. These community leaders received training on the rights of p and the significance of political participation. After the training, these leaders carried out sensitization talks, orientation and awareness visits in their communities, addressing people with disabilities and their families.   The three main outcomes of the project are: Political parties have been sensitized on the importance of including in their agendas, the issue of political participation of people with disabilities in electoral process. Increased awareness amongst people with disabilities and improved t knowledge on their voting rights. Documentation of Best practices and lessons learned on inclusion in the electoral process.   Best Practices    Design interventions by people with disabilities, for people with disabilities    La Red is comprised of entities for the rights of PwD’s, majority of the staff is PwD’s only. This provided an opportunity to increase the number of people to participate in the activities and a larger empathetic environment and dedication. The project engaged more staff from amongst PwD’s with physical, sensory and intellectual disabilities to be lecture facilitators, electoral observers and technical staff.   National Scope Project’s Implementation   The institutional platform established by La Red in the project along with  hubs established by collaborating entities of FENADID, CIMUDIS and ASODIFIMO at the national level ensured due regional representation in the project. The participants, who were leaders in their hubs from different regions, attended a three-day interactive session on issues and challenges relevant to political participation by people with disabilities, communication and self-esteem. The participants in turn, on  return to their communities shared their knowledge and experience gained through awareness lectures and home visits. Further on elections day, they participated in the electoral observation and identified the accessibility of various polling stations. Create opportunities for participation    Creating opportunities to promote participation and dissemination of information to PwD’s and their families has a multiplier effect and as such an important step in changing perceptions and behaviors towards political participation. Reflection and participation opportunities have been generated during the project through awareness lectures, meetings with organizations, and forums with political candidates, visits to political parties and dissemination materials. Spaces already established by the JCE have also been utilized in order to give visibility to people with disabilities in campaigns such as Verifícate. During the awareness campaign, people with disabilities explained as to how the lack of information had affected their lives. Following comments illustrate the message:   “I am very pleased with the workshop because I used to feel intimidated in other electoral processes, and now I know that I have the same rights as others.”   “I want to assert my vote.” “A blind participant in the lecture expressed that he did not think of voting, because in the past he was not allowed to enter the polls with his companion. Now that he knows the articles, which enable his right to enter with a person of his choice, and use a template to help him vote independently. He will vote in the future, and will do it with the template.”   Unify inter-agency efforts to achieve a commitment to expansion in the full inclusion of people with disabilities   Agreements with government organizations responsible to regulate and influence the processes of participation were attained with a view to bolster sustainability and achieving visibility for PwD’s in State policies and   initiatives. As per framework of the project, an institutional agreement was made amongst JCE, IFES and all the concerned organizations for PwD’s, with CONADIS as a witness in its role as a government entity. This integration helped in future actions for holistic achievement of the rights of PwD’s. As a consequence of this integrated effort, JCE included information for PwD’s in Election Instructions manual. The JCE also included sign language in informative programs on TV and provided access to information for people who are deaf or hard of hearing.   Information Campaigns in Accessible Formats   Following media coverage and impact thereof was achieved:  A TV slot on the voting rights of PwD’s, and Participation of several PwD’s in radio and TV programs.  People with disabilities became visible to the public. People with disabilities felt encouraged to participate in the electoral process and exercise their right to vote. The general public was informed that PwD’s have equal right to participation and integration in social and political life. General Population’s Awareness and the Awakening of the Sector’s Political Participation   For the 2012 elections, IFES and La Red worked together with JCE in order to raise awareness of poll workers, such as executing a Verificate program activity.   “A blind person from Los Mameyes told me that he was prevented from voting in the past elections, and he told the polling station worker that he had the right to vote. He stated ‘Law 275 allows me to vote with a person of my choice, and sent his son to find the brochure [from La Red], presented it, and was able to vote.” Systematization and Base Line Establishment Systematic database and baseline creation is vital to documentation for   status of political participation of PwD’s. During the project period, regional and national inputs have been developed to broaden the field and scope of studies and data on status of people with disabilities, which was hither to not available. Such studies bring out impact of the project, besides serving as a reference point for course of action on future   interventions Lessons Learnt    Reliable census for PwD’s would prompt government and its institutions to focus on needed resources to ensure the electoral and political rights of PwD’s Political inclusion activities should be completed sufficiently before election year. Understanding context limitations The political system in the country has to develop a broad based and a holistic approach for inclusion and aim at guaranteeing the full enjoyment of the rights to PwD’s.  A large proportion of PwD’s are without proper identity documents, which poses problems in legitimate recognition and registration in electoral roll. Inadequacy of information and education means that many families discriminate against PwD’s Erroneous perceptions regarding involvement of public agencies in this type of projects Adaptation or creating instruments to facilitate the vote of people with disabilities do not always lead to independent voting Addressing the issues relating to voting rights of people with intellectual and psychosocial disabilities   Of the people with disabilities surveyed during the project, 80% expressed motivation to vote as result of their participation in the political rights workshops. However, they also recognized that there are still barriers within the electoral process Voter Education through Posters and assistive devices A set of 2012 voter education posters in the Dominican Republic to increase their awareness and encourages PwD’s to vote. The posters carry a larger educative value since they are in local language and explain the polling process step wise.     Ballot Guide: An Assistive Device for Polling by PwD’s A ballot guide of Dominican Republic Central Electoral Board (JCE) is an assistive device which enables voters with visual disabilities to determine where boxes for each candidate are. It is hinged so that users are able to easily slide the ballot in and out.   Television Spot The “Right to Choose” project utilized multiple formats to reach voters with disabilities. An inclusive television spot was produced which showed persons with disabilities participating in the community and voting. It also incorporated an inset box with sign language interpretation in order to reach voters who are deaf or hard-of-hearing. The video empowered persons with different types of disabilities to take part in elections as active citizens and demonstrated the voting process.   Barriers to electoral inclusion During the monitoring and assessment of the electoral process, the following observations were made by the project program and technical teams and electoral observers. Following barriers to electoral inclusion are yet to be overcome as per the evaluation studies:  Lack of informational and orientation material for people with visual and auditory disabilities, barrier to access polling stations and centers (ex: polling stations located on second and third floors, stairs, and/or lack of ramps); Low motivation of people with disabilities to be involved in the electoral process (working in polling stations and centers), in an official manner (with the JCE), or to represent political parties; Out of the six government plans from the presidential candidates, only two took into consideration issues facing people with disabilities;  By other people telling them who to vote for, people with intellectual disabilities were being used as a means to obtain an additional vote, rather than exercising their right to vote and being respected for their participation; The JCE incorporated sign language in their citizen’s information and orientation television programs; While assisted voting is included in the electoral law, there is still unawareness of this right for people with disabilities, their families and polling station workers; Lack of knowledge of auxiliary templates for people who are blind or with low vision, as well as family members and polling station workers; and Low training and information on the use and existence of the auxiliary templates for people who are blind or with low vision.   
    6. 6

      HAITI

      Inclusive Voter Education in Haiti   Haiti has a population of 10.1 million with an estimated 1.5 million persons with disabilities (PwD’s) according to WHO’s estimation level of 15%. Haiti ratified the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities on 25 July 2009 and as such provides due recognition to the inclusion of PwD’s in electoral and political process. Voter Education for PwD’s in Haiti Haiti embarked upon a simple yet very effective system of civic and voter education for the PwD’s through attractive posters, signage’s in collaboration and support from the International Foundation For Electoral Systems (IFES) under civic education series in 2015 before presidential and legislative elections. The series covers the electoral process stepwise with a clear message for inclusion and encourages the PwD voters to join the electoral process. Some of the posters are as follows:   Pre election period:   All Our Voices Count’ With a view to demonstrate inclusion at the time of presidential election in Oct 2015, the Provisional Electoral Council of Haiti (CEP) issued a poster encouraging all voters including persons with disabilities to join the electoral process. The poster in simple terms coveys the message of inclusion and accessibility in an attractive manner.    Go Vote: An educative poster captioned ‘Go Vote!’ was produced by local artist Jerry Bourisquot. The poster conveys an illustrative message to the PwD voters to join the voting process. The poster given below is self explanatory and decisively encouraging to the targeted population. Go Vote! Nov 2015  At the Election Time: Arriving to Vote An illustrative poster produced by local artist Jerry Bourisquot under the civic education series at the time of presidential and legislative elections in the country in Oct 2015 demonstrates inclusion and access. The poster conveys clearly the help that would be available to PwD’s to facilitate entry to the polling station.    At the Election Time: Voting by All Citizens An educative poster produced by local artist Jerry Bourisquot under the civic education series at the time of presidential and legislative elections in the country in Oct 2015 reflects inclusion. The poster conveys very clearly the equal opportunity, in presence of Election Observer, to all the voters including PwD’s inside the polling station during the elections in the country.  Post Voting Period: Counting of Votes The poster produced by the PEC and IFES (Jan 2016) in Haitian Creole explains the process that follows after the ballot has been cast. The poster shows PwD’s working as polling/counting workers for processing the polled ballots. While it demonstrates the inclusion at all stages of electoral process, it also builds confidence in PwD’s that information on inclusion has been recorded correctly.  
    7. 7

      Kenya

      Inclusive Voter Education in Kenya Kenya has a population of 45 million and the population of the persons with disability is estimated at 6.7 million (per WHO’s estimation level of 15%). Kenya ratified the CRPD in the year 2008.  Kenya has in place the ‘Persons with Disabilities Act’ 2003 to provide support and equal access to PwD’s. Excerpts of Article 29 and 30 from the Act are given as below:  Persons with Disabilities Act (2003) Article 29  All persons with disabilities shall be entitled at their request, to be assisted by persons of their choice in voting in presidential, parliamentary and civic elections. A person who undertakes to render assistance under subsection (1) shall do so strictly in accordance with the instructions of the voter. A person described in subsection (2) shall bind himself, in the prescribed form, to comply with that subsection. A person who contravenes subsection (2) is guilty of an offence.   Article 30  Polling stations shall be made accessible to persons with disabilities during elections, and such persons shall in addition be provided with the necessary devices and assistive devices and services to facilitate the exercise of this right under this section.  Voter Education using road shows A Citizen going through Voter Education materials at the ASK show in Kenya Voter Education Weeks: ‘Informed Voter for Informed choices'; Emphasis on Inclusion During this week, the IEBC sensitize public on the importance of participation in the electoral process as well as boost the continuous voter registration process. Other issues highlighted cover inclusion and mainstreaming, party lists, political tolerance and dispute resolution mechanisms etc. The voter education weeks are implemented countrywide through outreach programmes to schools, electoral technology exhibition, media campaigns, onsite service delivery, open stakeholders’ forum, and town hall meetings. IEBC engages Stakeholders in advance to derive larger voter satisfaction from the event. IEBC has given a special call inter alia to the Persons with a Disability to participate in the forthcoming elections and all facilities are provided to such voters.  IEBC Collaboration with the IFES IEBC has collaborated with the IFES for facilitating Consultative forums for Persons with Disabilities (PwDs), Women and Youth forums. Further, IEBC also collaborates with the KCHR (Kenya Commission of Human Rights) for assessment of participation of Persons with Disabilities in general elections. Banners Announcing Launch of ‘Voter Education for Schools Project’ in Kenya   Inclusion of the PwD’s is prominently demonstrated in banners displayed at the launch of a new voter education initiative for schools in Kenya. Led by the IEBC, the Kenyan Ministry of Education, Science and Technology and the Kenya Institute of Curriculum development (KICD) the project is supported by the IFES and the Canadian Department of Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development. 
    8. 8

      Libya

      Libya: ‘Zaykum Zayna’   In 2013, an Electoral Access Working Group, that included members of the Libyan General National Congress, disabled persons’ organizations, disability rights activists, and civil society members, was formed in Libya. Together, Working Group members launched a successful social media campaign called Zaykum Zayna (“As you are, we are”) to promote awareness of the U.N. Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) in Libya, emphasizing the right to political participation for men and women with disabilities.    The Zaykum Zayna campaign helped in development of voter education resources in braille and the provision of sign language interpreters for all press conferences hosted by the High National Election Commission. A collection of advocacy tools and information about trainings was also developed through the campaign.  
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      Mali

      Mali: Electoral Access Project   Boîte á images¸or image boxes, were used by the Electoral Access Project in Mali (PAPEM) for a voter education project supported by IFES in Bamako in 2015. The pictures integrated persons with disabilities throughout the document, which used images to explain to voters how to participate. By including voters with disabilities in the drawing, the project not only encouraged persons with disabilities to take part in the election but also increased awareness of other voters on the rights of persons with disabilities to take part in political and public life.   Trained facilitators used the images to help explain the voting process. The wordless format enhanced access of persons with low literacy as well as voters with intellectual disabilities. Image boxes have also been used around the world in countries such as the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Haiti to increase awareness of participation in political life and elections.
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About Us

Logo ELCSystematic Voters’ Education and Electoral Participation (SVEEP) is a programme of multi interventions through different modes and media designed to educate citizens, electors and voters about the electoral process in order to increase their awareness and participation in the electoral processes. SVEEP is designed according to the socio-economic, cultural and demographic profile of the state as well as the history of electoral participation in previous rounds of elections and learning thereof.   

Election Commission of India

ECIThe Election Commission of India is an autonomous constitutional authority responsible for administering election processes in India. The body administers elections to the Lok SabhaRajya Sabha, State Legislative Assemblies in India, and the offices of the President and Vice President in the country. The Election Commission operates under the authority of Constitution per Article 324, and subsequently enacted Representation of the People Act

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