Voter Education for Accessible Elections in Myanmar
Myanmar has a population of 56 million out of which 8.5 million population of disabled people is estimated to be 8.5 million (as per the 15% estimate of the World Health Organization).Myanmar ratified the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities in December 2011. Myanmar made sustained efforts for inclusion in 2015 electoral process.
The Myanmar Independent Living Initiative (MILI) collaborated with the Union Election Commission (UEC) to develop an inclusive voter education posters, brochures, logo and pamphlets etc that provide guidance and instructions for voters with disabilities and the public as such on how to cast their ballot for October 2015 elections. Visuals with simple language and clear message help mitigate communication challenges that may occur especially for people with low literacy levels besides effectively addressing the problem of barriers to inclusion. Use of local language further helped in dissemination. These materials were used as a vital component of the Voter Education Campaign in 2015 elections in the country.
The initiative was supported by the International Foundation for Electoral Systems (IFES), the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, the Swiss Agency for development and Cooperation, and the United Kingdom department for International development (DFID).Some of the best practice materials are briefly mentioned step wise in the following:
Encouraging Everyone to Vote: The LOGO
In support of the 2015 elections in Myanmar, UEC and the MILI developed a logo for a voter education campaign. Using a logo for a campaign allows voter education materials to be identified as part of a broader campaign and helps emphasize the importance of election accessibility. The logo was used on several voter education materials, including brochures and for voter education concert held in Myanmar.
Supporting the Right to Vote
As the 2015 election approached, UEC of Myanmar and MILI worked to create a campaign in advance, encouraging persons with disabilities to vote and participate in the election. The production of the poster was supported by IFES.
Encouraging citizens to register and vote
This poster was produced by the Myanmar UEC to encourage citizens including PwD’s to register and vote. It was created 2015 elections with support from the IFES
Citizens and voter registration
This poster was also produced by the Myanmar UEC with the support from IFES to encourage citizens to register to vote for 2015 elections
Registering to Vote
This poster provides information on how voters can submit a form to correct their voter registration information or to report that a registered voter may be ineligible to participate in elections.
Guidelines for Voting
In support of the 2015 elections Myanmar UEC and MILI developed a brochure explaining the guidelines for accessible voting. The brochure was printed and distributed with support from the United Kingdom's DFID, the Australian government's Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation, and the IFES
Providing Guidelines on How to Vote
In support of the 2015 elections the Myanmar UEC and MILI developed a brochure explaining the guidelines for voting. The brochure was printed and distributed with support from the United Kingdom's DFID the Australian government's DFAT, the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation and IFES.
Voting by Persons with Disabilities
MILI in collaboration with the UEC developed an inclusive voter education poster that provides instructions for men and women with disabilities on how to cast their ballot in October 2015 elections. The poster was produced with support from IFES, DFID and other agencies referred to above.
During Myanmar’s historic 2015 election, MILI also organized a mobile “get-out-the-vote concert” with IFES’ support. This campaign presented a unique method to inform persons with disabilities about their right to vote and to encourage them to cast their ballots on Election Day.
For three days, MILI members drove around in an open-bed truck lined with voter education posters and a band of musicians with disabilities. The truck stopped in six towns where the band performed popular songs to gain the attention of persons in the neighborhood. After performing the first few songs at each location, MILI spoke to voters about the elections, providing information on voting and polling procedures as well as emphasizing how voting empowers citizens and allows them to have a voice in their country’s future.
Voter Education Pamphlets Distribution Campaign
During this time, volunteers also distributed 4,000 voter education pamphlets (discussed in the foregoing). The pamphlets outlined information on polling procedures for voters with disabilities and highlighted the different types of available assistance, step-by-step process of voting and illustrated the process with animations of voters with visual, hearing or physical disabilities.
Accessible Polling Stations
MILI targeted towns that were among the 15 towns where the Union Election Commission (UEC) piloted more accessible polling stations on Election Day. At these polling stations, which were located near schools and hospitals, the UEC provided polling officials who had received disability access training from MILI and other DPOs. At these locations, voters with visual disabilities were also able to use Braille ballot guides when casting their ballots. These guides allowed voters who are blind to cast their ballot independently and in secret.
Edited by ECI