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  1. ECI

    Myanmar

    Voter Education for Accessible Elections in Myanmar General 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. Voter Education 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. “get-out-the-vote concert” 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.
  2. (2013) Inclusion of for Persons with Disabilities (PwD) According to the 2011 census, India has around 70 million people with disabilities. Election commission made special efforts in provincial elections since 2013 and the national elections to make the elections inclusive and extended extra facilitation for persons with disabilities and also for old and infirm. The Cuttack administration took the challenge of mainstreaming PwD electors and enhancing their participation in the electoral process. A survey of PwDs, conducted through Anganwadi Workers (AWWs) in October-November 2013 wherein 46,989 numbers of PwDs including children, had been enlisted. Out of the above list, PwDs aged above 18 years were shortlisted which numbered 20,208. Single Window Camps for PwDs were conducted in all the Blocks and Urban bodies. In all these camps, an exclusive counter was set up to enrol PwD in the Electoral Roll. A special meeting was conducted by District Election Officer, Cuttack to draw up an action plan for arrangements to be made for electors with disability. Representative from Association of PwDs was also present. Strategy was evolved with clear tasks; targets, assigned to officers. The District Election Office unanimously set a goal to achieve 100 % voting by PwD electors as a matter of their right. One district level Unit and 14 Block level monitoring controls rooms were opened for the purpose. The Block level control room acted as a Call-Centre. Every PwD voter was called at least thrice over his phone & explained the facilities made available at booths. It was decided to provide at least two volunteers to every polling booth to assist PwDs. Measures like barrier free access to each of the polling stations with construction of permanent or temporary ramps, deployment of Wheel chairs at all booths, disabled friendly furniture in Polling booth, Provision of Signature Guide, Provision of special queue for priority casting of votes, Lay-out Design for Hearing-impaired, Engagement of sign language interpreter for the Hearing Impaired, Printing of Braille Ballot papers were under-taken. Awareness generation was undertaken through various methods & media. Voters’ Guide in vernacular language, on the voting rights and facilities for PwD voters was distributed. To motivate PwD electors & boost the morale of their family members, Household Contact programme was conducted for 10 days. The Anganwadi workers visited the household of PwD voters & handed over awareness material. The family members were explained regarding the arrangements made to boost their morale. Gathering information about PwDs in the district posed to be one of the huge challenges. The task of reaching out to PwD voters for awareness purposes with a 100% accuracy and efficiency proved to be a tough task. Moreover means of awareness used themselves posed a challenge as the same medium couldn’t be used for every PwD voter. Awareness campaigns, Audio/Video, Print media, Posters, special logistics at the polling booths for the convenience of voters was initiated. The Cuttack administration was able to reach 88.30% of the total PwD population in its district, the highest ever.
  3. Sitapur - Differently-abled crowned as ‘Loktantra Doot’ (Messengers of democracy) District Sitapur in Uttar Pradesh took a novel initiative for the differently-abled voters in the District. District Magistrate (DM) and District Election Officer (DEO), Sitapur, took this worth-appreciating enterprise with an aim to motivate the differently-abled to come out and vote during the General Elections to the Lok Sabha 2014. The strategy to involve the differently-abled was charted out to make them feel as much part of elections and democracy as rest of us. A painting/ poster competition of differently-abled was held at the District headquarters, which witnessed huge participation from all over the District. Titled ‘Mera mat bhi dega lokTantra ko naya aayam aur majbooti’, this competition witnessed a participation of over 4,000 differently-abled. Many of them painted about the rights and duty of differently-abled. The posters showed the differently-abled reaching the booth and voting or a differently-abled smiling as he shows-off the mark on his finger with pride. These posters were then displayed at each polling booth of Sitapur District. “It feels so good that we have been specially invited by District administration. We are not less than anyone else and we will surely vote,” said Ramlal, who walks to the polling station with an aid. A digital diary of all differently-abled voters was also created containing detail of each differently-abled in the District. The BLO and the District Control room were in touch with them throughout the SVEEP campaigning till the poll day. It was also decided that there would be no-queue for the differently-abled. Focus was given on the families where both the spouse was differently abled. In addition to this, about 3000 differently-abled persons were chosen from the District with each one representing their polling booth. Hence each one of the 3,000 polling booth in the District had a ‘Booth Ambassador’. They were crowned as the ‘Loktantra-doot’ . This added to their prestige and gave them immense confidence. This was followed by a grand ceremony wherein all the 3,000 Loktantra-doot were brought on motorcycles, which were termed as ‘Loktantra- vahan’. The rally of motorcycles with the differently-abled as the pillion-rider drew maximum cheers from the crowd. Then, the Loktantra-doot were further motivated and inspired to turn into emissary for elections by the then CEO of U.P.
  4. State-wide practices For their election held in 2014, Maharashtra ensured that a few things were taken care of when it came to facilitating the Persons with Disabilities in the State. Across the State, Maharashtra employed the following good practices – Special camps for awareness and education of PwDs about electoral processes were organized in various districts. Government departments, NSS, NCC, NYKS, Scouts and Guides, and NGOs/CSOs were roped in as partners for the special camps PwD Icons were appointed in various districts to appeal to PwDs and urge them to involve themselves in the electoral process. The State election machinery was sensitized through intensive training programmes that made them ready to handle any situation at hand. Investment was made in the production and distribution of accessible awareness resources to educate and inform PwDs about electoral processes.
  5. Electoral Inclusion - Participation of “Special Voters” District administration launched a mission “Rehbar” in collaboration with District Red Cross Society under SVEEP for providing home to booth services for aged, differently abled, aged and informed. A village wise survey was done and such special voters were identified. A list of 1048 differently voters were drawn and each voter was assigned one assistant from same polling booth area for facilitating movement to and from polling booth. Later, more such voters were added after the scheme was publicizes and additional voters turned up for availing assistance. Tricycles were hired for 43 polling stations, 21 vehicles were pressed into action for ferrying differently abled voters and their nominated attendants. In all 1506 such persons were facilitated to polling booths and back to their residences. In a record of sorts 114 centurions participated in the polls. Booth Level Officers were provided assistance allowance for managing Palkies and Ponnies in hilly areas for such special needy voters. The survey was earlier done through BLOs and Anganwadi workers in all 259 villages and list of all such voters was drawn which was followed by assigning one persons for assistance to each such voter and providing assistance allowance as well as arrangements. Special measures were put in place at all 53 Model Polling Stations for special voters and warm welcome was extended besides all services provided for their travel from homes to polling booths. This was made possible through a community based exercise. Out of these 1506 voters 1389 are differently abled or physically handicapped; out of 1389 such voters 986 reported to have never voted citing physical inability as majored reason and in some cases they had not enrolled earlier. Of these 614 were newly enrolled voters however they were already in age group of 25-80 and in some cases beyond that as well. At all 301 Polling stations “Special Voters’ Assistance Booth” was established in addition to general assistance booth and women voters’ assistance booth, to facilitate the special voters. District achieved 100% participation of differently abled, aged, centurions, sick and infirmed.
  6. An Action Plan for TNLA 2016 In Tamil Nadu, a special campaign for PwDs was organised. Following initiatives were taken. Preparation and collection of polling station wise differently-abled people details. The details include the EPIC card number, the type of disability, the kind of assistance required during and before the polling day and telephone number Use of a dedicated phone number coupled with 1950 to facilitate on call enrolment. Indication of differently-abled voters in the electoral roll Braille enabled voter slips Volunteers to be deployed to facilitate enrolment in orphanages and homes Activities conducted during Awareness phase Preparation of volunteers tagging software called as “Enable Pondy by Young Pondy” to offer a basket of services to the differently-abled people by the volunteers including college students, Red Cross Members and NGOs. Conduct of cultural programmes (constituency-wise) in a phase manner to increase the morale and awareness level of the differently-abled voters. Conduct of Differently abled Voters Day Awareness messages in the form of posters and stickers to be Braille enabled. Video awareness messages shall be prepared with sign language interpretation. Motivational SMS to all the differently-abled voters every week. Constitution of differently-abled activist groups to act as volunteers to monitor the implementation of initiatives at the Polling Station level. Confidence Building Measures (CBM) by distributing awareness material through volunteers. Polling Day Arrangements: Provision of permanent sturdy ramp with handrails ( 3” width, gradient of 1:12 to 1:10) , Wheelchair, Wide non-slippery path. Separate queue for senior citizens and differently abled people, seating arrangements inside the Polling Station. Ensuring 3 feet wide doorways at the entry and exit points, providing adequate space inside the Poll Station. Desk and counters at wheel chair accessible height Ballot sheet and EVMs should be in Braille Braille Enabled Voters Slips The table where the EVMs placed shall be of adjustable height To provide amplifiers for hearing impaired, sign language Interpreters and trained volunteers on the Poll Day Drinking water facility at accessible height Easily accessible rest rooms, Thank You cards Specific Initiatives Sensitisation of BLOs and all election facilities on the importance and sensitivity of addressing the needs of the differently-abled voters was initiated. Website of the Election Department was linked with that of the Social Welfare Department to facilitate data sharing.
  7. Creating an Accessible Experience Wide open entrance doors at polling stations, signage and tactile guides in the pathway to polling rooms, wheelchairs, separate queue arrangements, comfortable seating arrangements, easily accessible rest rooms – these are some provision that Puducherry made to create a more accessible election experience for Persons with Disabilities (PwDs) . Student volunteers were drafted to provide one to one service. Well-lit polling stations with large signage, volunteers were arranged for blind electors. Apart from this, a novel web-based initiative called “ENABLED PONDY” having polling station-wise details of PwDs with their EPIC number, the type of disability and kind of assistance required during and before the polling day, telephone number etc, was introduced. Under this- The volunteers made a complete survey to capture the requirements of people with disabilities on the Poll Day. The web application tagged automatically the particular volunteer to the corresponding persons with disabilities. Static Volunteers and Mobile Volunteers were drafted. Static Volunteers provided general assistance to all persons with disabilities at the polling station. Mobile Volunteers provided individual transport service to the specific voter with disabilities.
  8. How Kerala made its Elections Accessible Prior to the Kerala Legislative Assembly Elections, the State doubled its efforts in reaching out to the PwDs in the following ways - Every district conducted a massive drive to ensure maximum enrolment of PwDs. Permanent Ramps were built in public buildings serving as polling stations. Directions have been given to District Election Officers (DEOs) to set up temporary ramps wherever construction of permanent ramps is not possible. In order to make space for the entry of wheelchairs of the disabled inside the polling station, wide entrances were ensured. The disabled are given priority-entry and are not required to wait at the polling queue. Other facilities like tricycles, wheel chairs, and stretchers are provided in all polling stations. Additional guidelines through A/V medium are also made widely available.
  9. Azamgarh: Booth Dost for PwDs Special efforts and innovations were made in Azamgarh to strengthen the concept of INCLUSIVE DEMOCRACY. An intensive survey was done by which 30583 PwDs were listed, the highest in UP. The survey also included the type of disability of the PwDs, their mobile number, epic number etc. A free, offline app was made to reach out to the PwDs. Using this app, a two way communication was established between the BLO and PwDs which helped in filling form 6 and any EPIC related issues. There are around 650 newly recruited lekhpal in the District who are in their training tenure. They were given the name of BOOTH DOOT and were allotted booths for survey of PwDs. There are around 3461 booths and each lekhpal were given around 5-6 booth for survey. A mock poll session with around 300 PwDs who were facing 6 types of disabilities namely deaf, dump, blind, without hands, legs and muscular dystrophy were invited and had a one to one experience with the EVM machine and a mock booth. It helped them to give a first-hand experience of booth. Distribution of voter slips in braille for the visually impaired voters was arranged. SVEEP Song was made 28 Making Elections Accessible and sung by PwDs to motivate the community and the same was pictured in sign language also for the deaf PwDs. In addition to that, a tableau for “Inclusive Democracy” was displayed on parade ground on Republic Day and on Valentine Day, as gesture for our love for voting rights and PwDs, a Rose Marathon to promote voter awareness for PwDs was attended by hundreds of PwDs. They were felicitated with Roses during the march. It was by these efforts that out of 30583 PwDs 21479 actually voted (Around 70%). Kanpur Nagar: Election with a human touch (2017) For a healthy democracy it is necessary that all the organs of the society participate in its democratic processes. It is failure of a democracy if any of its community fails to participate in the process of electing its representatives. For Uttar Pradesh General Assembly Election 2017, District Kanpur Nagar decided that the upcoming election will be an election with a human touch and special focus will be facilitation of Divyang Voters (PwDs). The fundamental task to identify Divyang voters started when all BLOs were asked to identify through door to door verification. Later list of 23357 PwD pensioners was taken from PwD welfare department and provided to all BLOs area wise to supplement their search. BLOs could hardly identify around 8000 Divyang people despite repeated efforts. When this did not succeed in city area, employees, Zonal Officers of Municipal Corporation, Civil defence volunteers, ICDS workers were combined in ward wise teams and deployed for door to door survey of PwD people. The purpose was to identify Divyang people by surveying each household and confirming whether their names exist in Voter list or not. Immediately thereafter the exercise of voter registration of left out Divyang people was started. After registering all the left out voters a control room comprising 10 people was started to feed the details of all Divyang voters AC wise. Special SVEEP activities were carried out with the help of Divyang associations, NGOs, Education departments, NSS and Civil defence. The main emphasis was on awareness rallies, street plays, EVM training and pledge taking. District level officers of Panchayati Raj, Health, Revenue departments and In charge of NSS, NCC, NYK, Civil defence were called to depute their employees or volunteers as PwD Assistants. They were assigned the responsibility of PwD for smooth voting. These were arranged after a thorough consultation with PwD Associations for their special needs. Auto Rickshaws and E-Rickshaws were used as PwD Rath (Chariot) to carry PwD voters to polling stations. The result of whole exercise was very overwhelming where in 80.78% PwD voters actually voted in a hassle free manner using all provided facilities
  10. Divyang Doli in Rudraprayag Divyang Doli was initiated to facilitate PwD voters, for around 232 voters spread across 133 polling stations, it was a helping hand for voters with disabilities who could not walk to the polling station on their own. Volunteers were roped in to assist persons with disabilities to reach the polling station and cast their vote with ease.
  11. In the run up to the November 2017 election for the State Legislative Assembly, Himachal Pradesh determinedly worked towards motivating PwD electors, facilitating them and ensuring their participation. One of the first tasks accomplished by the State, was the preparation of a database of PwDs with the help of records maintained by the Department of Social Justice & Empowerment/Hospitals and the office of CMOs. The list of PwDs was shared with BLOs so that they could help them in enrolment and subsequent awareness and motivation to participate in the electoral process. Special modules were developed for PwDs in the form of brochures, audio material etc, with the help of specialized agencies and departments to spread awareness about the electoral process. A Special drive was taken up to enrol PwD students in colleges with the help of Campus Ambassadors.Voter education content was included in the skill development programmes for PwDs run by the Department of Social Justice & Empowerment.Some CSOs regularly conducted vocational training for vision and hearing impaired people. Voter education content for PwDs was made available to these CSOs for inclusion in their trainings. To inspire the will to vote, young achiever Muskan Thakur- a university student with excellent academic record, visually impaired, was selected as a youth icon to promote voter awareness among the youth. Seeing someone just like them so enthusiastic about the right to franchise, motivated other PwD electors to turn up on the polling stations.
  12. Reaching out to the Visually Impaired Enrolment Programs were held at organisations working with PwDs in Ahmedabad like Blind People’s Association, Prakash, Uthan Talim Kendra etc. 8236 PwD voters identified through BLO survey, which is highest in the state. To appeal to them, two Pwd Icons in the district are identified. SVEEP activities like Voter Awareness Tricycle Rally by PwD Voters were organised along with the other awareness campaigns.
  13. Divyang Polling Station of Panaji In tune with the Election Commission’s intent to make the election process more inclusive and to encourage differently abled voters to exercise their franchise, it was decided to declare one of the polling stations in 11- Panaji AC as a Divyang Polling Station. This polling station was managed entirely by staff, including the Presiding Officer, who are differently abled. Special efforts were taken to identify such staff from the various government departments. The willingness of the officials were sought and two groups were formed – one for the duties on the day of poll and one reserve. Special training was given in two rounds for these personnel and their feedback was taken in order to make provisions for their specific requirements at the polling stations so that they have a comfortable experience. This initiative was widely appreciated by the national and local media and NGOs working for the differently abled. The Divyang Polling Station had a large voter turnout. In addition to this, special efforts were made to identify differently abled voters in each Polling Station Area through house to house verification by BLOs and Sector Officers. Accordingly, transport facilities through the vehicles of Sector Officers were made available on the day of poll to the differently abled. More wheelchairs were provided in polling stations were a larger number of differently abled voters were expected to cast their votes.
  14. The Silent Ballot – Massar The village of Kongthong in Meghalayas East Khasi hills perched on an adjoining ridge is known far and wide, as the village where its residents, are identified not with their names, but through various musical whistles and sounds. It is strikingly ironical that just across the hill, and in stark contrast, lies the village of Massar, known as a “silent village’’, with its 87 households, being either, partially or completely tone deaf and hearing impaired. In the year of Accessible Elections, this feature drew the election officials towards the village, in an effort to better understand and to make Elections truly accessible to each and every voter, and to perhaps make an “unheard” election “heard”. With a view to penetrate these impervious circles, the officials soon found themselves at the village Headman’s house. The young Headman and his Secretary shared a detailed account of how over 87 households belonging to the Nongsteng clan have remained silent for generations together for the past 100 years. He revealed that there are two groups of people amongst the Nongsteng Clan – The “hearing group” – Nongsteng Sngew and the “deaf group” Nongsteng Kyllut, living on two different hills. He mentioned that 87 households from amongst the village residents are dominated by the Nongsteng “deaf group”. It was pointed out that, most of the children, in the age bracket 0-6years are at various stages of hearing impairment. Records of some NGOs working in the village, reveal that this community of hearing impaired numbers about 90 persons, including 42 children. The officials personally interacted with the community members to understand ways to make tangible efforts at making Accessible Elections not only truly accessible, but also inclusive, for each and every eligible voter from amongst them. A young lady Batimon Nongsteng a member of the Nongsteng kyllut clan, acted as a vital link on communication between the two parties. It was through Batimon, that the Nongsteng voters about 35 of them, some of them profoundly deaf, some partially, could vocalise their thoughts through signs and shrill syllables. Batimon shared that to survive, some learnt to lip-read, whereas a large many floundered. On enquiring about elections through a unique combination of sign language and lip-reading, many of them raised their hands to indicate in the affirmative. The ERO of the Assembly constituency, however remarked, that perhaps many of the women here continued to grapple with silence, at a time when elsewhere, the Poll campaign would have reached a crescendo through loud jingles, bands, songs and speeches. Asked how they responded to political campaigns, the members revealed that they diligently followed messages, received on their mobile phones, which even in their respective day to day lives is an indispensible tool for enabling them to communicate and negotiate their challenged existences. The officials were told that as the hearing impaired amongst this community are mainly women, often it is a male member who would guide his female relatives through sign language on the voting process. Across the village, silence hangs like a heavy curtain, and interpersonal communication is relegated to lip-reading and basic sign language. When the village votes, even the beep of the electronic machine is often lost on most of these women. Painstakingly, it was communicated that the Election Commission has designated 2018 as the year of Accessible Elections, with a special focus on People With Disabilities (PWDs) like themselves, and that the purpose of the visit was to better understand their difficulties and challenges, and that the Commission will be creating special facilities for them, for their enrolment and voting, to help them. No sooner were these messages comprehended that the community collectively broke into a smile which drifted across like a hopeful haze. The affirmative message of Accessible Elections, cut a steady and hope filled path through the silence, and the collective handicaps experienced by this community soon transformed into hope, as it was announced that one of theirs, Batimon Nongsteng has been appointed as a Special Booth Level Officer for PWDs of Massar Polling Station under 27-Pynursla (ST) AC, with the specific role to assist the PWDs in enrolment in the Electoral Rolls, to facilitate them during polling, and to also act as facilitators of the PWDs in all election matters, including all other issues concerning their welfare in connection with their participation in the Electoral Process. Sign languages, embodying applause, quickly followed when it was announced that as part of Assured Minimum Facility (AMF), priority voting, and continued endeavours to ensure the presence of specially trained volunteers, would be made available for them in all future elections. To end this unique interaction, a vote of thanks was proposed by a young hearing impaired girl who recently passed her matriculation from St. Fernando, a leading speech and hearing impaired institution of the state.
  15. Preparing ahead of MP State Legislative Assembly Elections 2018 With elections scheduled for later in 2018, the State is determined to stand true to the theme of the year on ‘Accessible Elections’. Until now, Madhya Pradesh has taken the following measures - Educated and sensitized PwDs have been made Campus Ambassadors for motivating PwDs. Educated deaf and dumb PwDs are being motivated to work as BLOs. In Bhopal, Ujjain, Indore and Jabalpur districts, BRTS bus-stops have been made PwD-friendly and facilities like toilets, drinking water, ramps, shades etc, have been provided for their smooth transit and participation. Dummy ballot papers for visually impaired voters have been prepared and successfully used in the State Bye-Elections. A visually- challenged Professor, Dr. Rohit Trivedi associated with the Government Sarojini Naidu Autonomus Girls College, Bhopal has been identified as State Icon.
  16. The theme and focus of SVEEP, Karnataka has been “Inclusive, Accessible and Ethical Elections”. All efforts were thus made to enhance the registration and voting of PwDs. Celebrities like Bharat Ratna awardee Prof CNR Rao, Rahul Dravid, Jnanpith awardee Dr Chandrasekhar Kambar, Ashwini Angadi, Girish N. Gowda- a para Olympian and others were roped in as State Icons. In an effort to promote participation by PwDs, 26 Polling Stations were opened and fully manned by PwDs. 388 Polling Personnel with Disabilities contributed in polling station and election-related work across the State. Special camps were organized for registration of PwDs. Campaign resources including videos, films, posters and banners featuring Icons were effectively used in cinema halls, malls, print, electronic and social media to create awareness among the target group. Special postage stamp on the theme of inclusiveness were released and a special registration and voting guide for the visually impaired in Braille script was widely distributed. The Chief Electoral Officer, sent out Personalized letters in Braille to 1000 visually-impaired voters. A special software for reading WhatsApp and other social media messages was devised. The State observed an improved turnout amongst its PwD voters as a result of its dedicated efforts.
  17. ECI

    USA

    Inclusive Electoral Literacy in US Introduction The rights of the voters with disabilities are duly protected under the Legislative provisions of the Help America Vote Act (HAVA) and the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). The Electoral Assistance Commissions has taken several initiatives in the light of said legal provisions to provide equal opportunity to the voters with disabilities in the matters of awareness, voter education and their engagement in the electoral process. More than 35 million Americans with disabilities are eligible to vote. The US Election Assistance Commission (EAC) has a strong operational system backed by the legislation, infrastructure and technology to support and facilitate such PwD’s and commitment to ensure that the election process, polling places and voting services are accessible for such voters. Legislative Provisions under HAVA and ADA Section 241 of HAVA provides that the EAC shall, inter alia, conduct studies on studies on election administration issues to the ‘Methods of ensuring the accessibility of voting, registration, polling places, and voting equipment to all voters, including individuals with disabilities (including the blind and visually impaired), Native American or Alaska Native citizens, and voters with limited proficiency in the English language.’ The studies are made available to the public and are aimed at promoting effective administration of federal elections. The studies are used to develop a framework most convenient, accessible, and easy to use for voters, including members of the uniformed services and overseas voters, individuals with disabilities, including the blind and visually impaired, and voters with limited proficiency in the English language; will be nondiscriminatory and afford voters an equal opportunity to vote. The legislative provisions, studies and the framework referred to above also include ‘Methods of educating voters about the process of registering to vote and voting, the operation of voting mechanisms, the location of polling places, and all other aspects of participating in elections. The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and Help America Vote Act (HAVA) require that all Amer¬icans have the same opportunity to participate in the voting process, privately and independently. Thus law provides equal opportunity to the voters with disabilities besides the voters from the marginalized sections. Voluntary Guidance on Voter Education for Electoral Process The U.S. Election Assistance Commission, in view of the mandate under Section311 of HAVA, has developed and adopted a series of voluntary guidelines for voter education and election management in collaboration with local election officials and consultative process envisaged under Section 311of HAVA. These guidelines provide valuable guidance on best practices in strengthening the voter education programmes besides managing efficient and effective elections. Voter education as such, has a significant impact on voter turnout. Well planned and well designed programmes do motivate and encourage electorate to participate in the electoral process in an enlightened manner and in larger numbers.EAC provides cards for persons with disabilities for easy guidance (See Annex I) EAC’s ‘A Voter’s Guide to Federal Elections’ Voter Guides are highly informative and simple to read and cover all aspects of electoral process and available on EAC website. The guide is intended to help voters including those with disabilities or besides those from marginalized section to successfully navigate the Federal election process in a holistic manner from registering to vote through casting a ballot on Election Day. In addition to providing the basics of casting a ballot, this guide includes information on voter eligibility, early voting, alternative registration and voting processes for uniformed and overseas citizens, and polling place accommodation that make voting more accessible to all sections of voters. The voter guide is available in eleven languages: Cherokee, Chinese, Dakota, English, Japanese, Korean, Navajo, Spanish, Tagalog, Vietnamese, and Yupik so as to maximize the voter coverage from all sections of the society.. The Guides provide relevant links for helpful resources to voters on all matters relating to election process.. EAC Voter Guides are made available in the Election Resource Library of the EAC on its website. Relevant extract from Voter’s Guide relating to Voters with disability is given below: “IS VOTING ACCESSIBLE FOR VOTERS WITH DISABILITIES? Most polling places are designed with accommodations to make the voting process more accessible to all voters, including those voters with disabilities. Accessibility accommodations include clearly marked parking spaces, entrances with ramps, and well-marked routes and signage indicating the way to voting locations. Polling places must have voting equipment that is accessible for individuals with disabilities, including non visual accessibility for the blind and visually impaired, in a manner that provides the same opportunity for access and participation (including privacy and independence) as for other voters. If you have questions about the accessibility of your polling place, or if you need information about voting equipment for individuals with disabilities, contact your State or local election office. (See list of Available Resources at the end of this guide.)” Accessible Voting Technology Initiative The EAC’s Accessible Voting Technology Initiative (AVTI) supports accessibility research on transformative technologies and approaches. Through the AVTI, the EAC has produced over 45 solutions for assisting voters with disabilities. The initiatives include the EAC’s Military Heroes grant to provide assistance needed for recently injured military personnel to participate in elections. EAC Voter Resources One of EAC’s primary mandates under the Help America Vote Act is to serve as a central resource for information about elections. Through EAC’s national clearinghouse, the public including persons with disabilities can conveniently access information on registering to vote and serving as a poll worker along with studies on how, where and when to vote. EAC maintains the National Mail Voter Registration Form (in seven languages), which can be used in any state to register to vote and update their registration information for a federal election. EAC also provides information on contact information for the state election offices. Resources for Voters may be listed as follows Register and Vote in Your State. National Mail Voter Registration Form Become a Poll Worker Overseas and Military Voters Voting Accessibility Election Calendar Election Resource Library Helpful Links Voter Guides Social Media Sites of Election offices The Electoral College Resources for Voters with Disabilities This comprehensive list of resources for voters with disabilities includes links to voting accessibility laws and regulations and the latest best practices and research pertaining to voters with disabilities and elderly voters. EAC’s Resources: Quick Start Series EAC’s ‘6 Tips for Making Voting Accessible’ The EAC has collaborated with local election officials to develop a series of helpful tips for voter education and election management. This series provides ideas and suggests best practices to help run efficient and effective elections. See Annex II) EAC’s ‘10 Tips for Voters with Disabilities’ Before you vote in the next election, know the voting process in your State. The following tips from the U.S. Election Assistance Commission examine the options available to help voters with disabilities vote privately and independently. These tips and examples can help to make voting accessible to everyone including inter alia the voters with a disability. (See Annex III) Voting Accessibility EAC Commemorates the 25th Anniversary of Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) by hearing ‘How to Make Voting More Accessible for Individuals with Disabilities’ The event was intended to explore ways to make voting more accessible for individuals with disabilities. Commissioners heard testimony from accessibility advocates, experts, and individuals with disabilities regarding the progress made to ensure HAVA’s requirement that individuals with disabilities be given the same opportunity to vote freely and independently as other voters Commissioners met July 28, 2015 to commemorate the 25th Anniversary of ADA and explore ways to make voting more accessible for individuals with disabilities. Commissioners heard testimony from accessibility advocates, experts, and individuals with disabilities regarding the progress made to ensure HAVA’s requirement that individuals with disabilities be given the same opportunity to vote freely and independently as other voters. Partnerships with non-partisans HAVA provides for partnerships with non-partisans for electoral assistance to PwD’s and marginalized sections of society.
  18. Paraguay: Voter Education for Persons with Disabilities Introduction Paraguay has total Population of 6.8 million of which, population with a disability is estimated at 1million (as per World Health Organization’s 15% estimate). Paraguay ratified the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities on 03 September 2008 and as such recognizes equal access to the persons with a disability for electoral process including voting rights. Accommodations for Persons with Disabilities The Supreme Tribunal of Electoral Justice (STEJ) has done a pioneering work for voter education for PwD’s. In this endeavor the STEJ has taken several initiatives in collaboration with civic society organizations. Some of these are listed as below: VE for PwD’s through Posters In 2015, with assistance from Fundación Saraki and the United States Agency for International Development, the produced a large poster to explain the different types of election accommodations available for people with visual, hearing, intellectual, physical and psychosocial disabilities.During the municipal elections in November 2015, STEJ also produced and distributed posters with large photos and clear instructions to assist/ support all voters, including those with disabilities, in understanding the voting process on Election day VE Accessible Voting Guide In 2015, Fundaciόn Saraki, a Paraguay organization dedicated to supporting the rights of persons with disabilities and their access to elections produced ‘The Accessible Voting Guide’, which carries a message "a disability doesn't take away the right to vote" on the cover, explains step-by-step instructions to vote, as well as recommendations to make voting processes more accessible to persons with disabilities. This voter education guide educates and informed persons with disabilities of the regulations in Paraguay that support voters with disabilities. (Details may be seen at http://www.saraki.org/) VE Brochures Fundaciόn Saraki, a Paraguayan organization dedicated to supporting rights of persons with disabilities, produced a number of brochures on access to elections. The brochures aim at providing learning information on assistive devices for PwD’s. This resource also elaborates description for the process of voting at home, including who is eligible to do so. (Details may be seen at http://www.saraki.org/) Learning about Assistive Voting Devices During municipal elections held in Paraguay in November 2015, STEJ provided the polling places with a poster that described different accessibility resources available for persons with disabilities. It included a magnifying glass for voters with low vision, a Braille template and instructions for using it in Braille, a pencil grip for voters with reduced mobility in their hands, instructions with graphics and in sign language for voters who were Deaf or hard-of-hearing, as well as priority waiting for pregnant women, nursing mothers and older adults.
  19. New Zealand: Inclusive Voter Education, Disability Strategy and Initiatives for PwD’s Introduction All the New Zealand citizens have right to have their voice heard and as such, equal access to enrollment and voting at elections. In this context, the Electoral Commission of New Zealand provides efficient and effective electoral assistance in terms of enrollment and voting to persons with disabilities, aboriginals, other categories requiring voter assistance besides women. The initiatives of EC NZ are supported by the provisions of the Elections Act 1993 and the rules made under this Act. Access 2020 Disability Strategy EC NZ has developed Access 2020 strategy taking into account the improvements made during last three elections and integrating them into a long time framework. Through this process, the Commission aims to identify and remove the barriers that the PwD’s face at the time of enrollment and exercising their right to vote. The focus of the disability strategy of EC NZ is to support persons with disabilities and their families ‘whanau and caregivers’ for participation in electoral process. Initiatives of EC NZ EC NZ continued all of its initiatives from the 2011 general election through 2014. Main initiatives include the following: information in accessible formats including Braille, large-print, audio format and screen reader files information and consultation opportunities in New Zealand Sign Language DVD resource kits and facilitation guides for voters with an intellectual disability Plain English resources including posters, booklets and DVDs Special Voters Special Voters Defined under the Law As provided under the electoral legislation of New Zealand, a person who is otherwise qualified to vote may vote as a special voter under inter alia the following conditions: A person intends to be absent or is actually absent from the district on the day of polling; a person who intends to be outside or is actually outside New Zealand on the polling day; a person is unable to attend to vote at any polling place in the district by reason of illness, infirmity, pregnancy, or recent childbirth; a person is unable to vote on the polling day by reason of a religious objection; a person satisfies the Returning Officer or the issuing officer that on any other ground it will not be practicable for him to vote at a polling place in the district without incurring hardship or serious inconvenience. Special vote can be cast only as per prescribed procedure under the law. Blind, Disabled or Illiterate Voters An elector who is wholly or partially blind or whether because of physical handicap or otherwise, unable to write or has severe difficulty in reading or writing, or is not sufficiently familiar with the English language to vote without assistance, can vote as per prescribed procedure under the Election laws of New Zealand. The law elaborates the procedure as well as the nature of assistance that may be provided to such voters. Provision of Telephone Dictation to Blind Voters EC NZ delivered telephone dictation voting to voters who are blind or visually impaired or have another disability with the result that they are unable to vote independently and in secret at the 2014 General Election. Enrolling and Voting in Sign Language The election resources of EC NZ provide information and guidance for enrolling and voting in New Zealand sign language for voters who require this assistance. Hospital Votes The electoral regulations define ‘Hospital Votes’ and provide for electoral assistance to a person who is a patient in any hospital, maternity home etc. Such persons have to apply for a special vote and the assistance is provided as per prescribed procedure to such applicants. Details of the Access 2020 disability strategy and other disability resources of the Electoral Commission, New Zealand can be accessed at its website for voter information, awareness and educative purposes
  20. ECI

    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.
  21. ECI

    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.
  22. ECI

    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.
  23. 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.
  24. ECI

    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.
  25. ECI

    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.

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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