By Diana Omueza
Abuja, Oct. 8, 2020 The Center for Citizens with Disabilities (CCD), an NGO, has urged the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to sustain priority voting for Persons with Disability (PWDs) in the forthcoming Ondo State Governorship Election on Oct.10, 2020.
Mr David Anyaele, the Executive Director of the center, made the call on Thursday during an online Assessment of INEC’s Preparation for Persons with Disabilities (PWDs).
Anyaele said that the prioritisation of Persons with Disabilities (PWDs) during elections should be made mandatory, not advisory, in accordance to the INEC Electoral Act as amended.
“Section 56(2) of the INEC Electoral (Amendment) Act 2010 states that the commission may take reasonable steps to ensure that voters with disabilities are assisted at the polling stations.
“By the provision of suitable means of communication such as Braille, large embossed print or electronic devices or sign language interpretation, or off site voting in appropriate cases.
“This and much more are what should consist prioritisation which should be mandatory not advisory,” he said.
He appealed to INEC to re-design polling units layout and ensure that polling stations are accessible for physically impaired voters and the physically challenged.
He also urged INEC to make election materials and facilities available and accessible for all PWDs.
These, he said , include Form EC40H, polling units, and assistive resources such as sign language interpreters, signage posters, tactile ballot jackets, magnifying lenses and disability friendly polling stations.
Anyaele also called for the training of INEC ad hoc officials who would be deployed for election duties.
“Training of INEC ad hoc officials adequately to understand and respond to PWDs’ needs at polling stations is paramount.
“The treatment of the INEC official to PWDs at the polls will help reverse negative public perceptions and attitudes,” he said.
Anyaele recommended collaboration of the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC), security agencies and other stakeholders to wholly implement health and safety protocols during the electoral process.