The Campaign for Equal Voting Access, a program of the Centre for Citizens with Disabilities (CCD) participated actively in the observation of September 19, 2020, Edo State Governorship Election organized by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC)
We received reports from our field observers deployed across the three Senatorial Zones of the State. These observers were trained in election observation with a focus on equal voting access for persons with disabilities. The key objective of the observation exercise was to observe provisions made by INEC for persons with disabilities’ participation in the election and raise awareness on equal voting rights for citizens with disabilities.
EVAPWD commends the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) for the conduct of today’s election as we observed a good turnout of voters as early as 8 am.
EVAPWD is impressed to observe that marginalized populations – the aged, nursing mothers, and pregnant women, and persons with disabilities were offered priority voting in most of the polling units observed. We commend Polling Officials for their efforts in this regard. Regrettably, many voters with hearing impairments struggle without success to benefit from this provision.
EVA4PWDs observers observed that the promised Braille voter’s guide and Braille ballot paper by INEC for easy access of Election Day instructions, guidelines, and ballot paper for Blind voters were scarcely available and where it was available, many INEC Ad-hoc Staff didn’t know it as they were calling their office, while some said they forgot it behind At Polling Unit 003, Car Park Ward 1, Oredo LGA, an observer assisted in locating the Braille material.
EVAPWD Observers did not see any magnifying lens at the Polling Units, those that claimed to have one could not provide it for observers to see.
EVAPWDs also observed that Information, Education, and Communication (IEC) materials such as Election Day instructions and guidelines to assist the deaf or persons with hearing impairment understanding of the voting process were missing a majority of the polling units visited. This is a barrier to accessibility according to election day procedure for the deaf or hearing impaired voters.
EVAPWDs observers report shows that large numbers of the polling units were not accessible to physically challenged persons. These polling units were sited in difficult places such as buildings without ramps/handrails, across a gutter, staircase, etc.
Observance of INEC Covid-19 guideline was not adhered to in the majority of the Polling Units visited in Oredo LGA. There was a large crowd at Greater Tomorrow High School Oredo Ward 1, Rama Park at Ikpoba Okha, Oredo LGA among other Polling Units.
With the above-stated observations, the Campaign for Equal Voting Access for Persons with Disabilities a program of the Centre for Citizens with Disabilities (CCD) is disappointed that INEC displayed a minimal commitment to the implementation of the Framework on Access and Participation of Persons with Disabilities in the Electoral Process and the Discrimination against Persons with Disabilities (Prohibition) Act 2018.
We urge INEC to address these issues as observed by EVAPWDs observers, especially as we move to the Ondo State Governorship election next month.
David O. Anyaele
Chairman, Campaign for Equal Voting Access