The Campaign for Equal Voting Access, a program of the Centre for Citizens with Disabilities (CCD) participated actively in the observation of the October 10, 2020 Ondo 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 to observe the election with 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.
EVA4PWD commends the good people of Ondo State for coming out to choose a Governor of their choice. We also commend the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) for the conduct of today’s election as large number of polling units observed opened around 8am
EVAPWD appreciates Polling Units Official that offered priority voting to vulnerable groups like the aged, nursing mothers and pregnant women and persons with disabilities as a large number of Polling Units observed provided priority voting to vulnerable groups.
EVAPWDs observers report shows that a large number of the polling units were not accessible to physically challenged persons. At Polling Unit 14, Wad 10, Akure South LGA, a physically challenged voter was carried, before she could access the voting cubicle. The same inaccessible [polling Units were observed at PU 003, Ward 011 LA II Primary School Lisaliwa, PU 025 Ward 07; PU 022 Ward 007; PU 023 Ward 007 & PU 027 Ward 007 Ondo West LGA. These PUs were totally not accessible for PWDs having multiple barriers, from stones, gutters & sand.
EVA4PWDs observers observed that Braille jackets were not deployed in all the Polling Units as Braille Jackets were seen in Polling Units (PU005, Ward 003, PU, 036 Ward 002, PU 014, Ward 010, PU, 002, Ward 002, Akure South LGA). Whereas other Polling Units had no Braille Jacket (PU 001, Ward 6 Gboni, PU, 31, Ward 002, PU 29, Ward 002, Isikan, Akure South LGA).
EVAPWD Observers were dissatisfied over the non-availability of magnifying lenses at the Polling Units observed. This shows that persons with sight impairment like persons with albinism were exposed to difficulties as a result of absence of magnifying lenses at the Polling Units.
EVAPWDs also observed that significant number of Polling Units had Election Day instructional materials posted on the Polling Units. However, no Sign Language Interpreter was sighted at the Polling Units observed. As persons with hearing impairment struggled to benefit from priority voting at the Polls.
Observance of INEC Covid-19 guidelines were not adhered to. There was no form of social distancing as most of the PU’s were crowded. There were hand sanitizers in all the PU and INEC staff were found putting on their facemasks.
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 concerned about the use of charity based approach on persons with disability participation in the electoral process.
It is obvious to note that INEC is struggling to implement its 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 take appropriate measures to review its processes and approach on persons with disabilities participation in the electoral process. If persons with disabilities cannot vote during elections, it would be difficult for them to demand to be voted for, as the inaccessible electoral process is equal to exclusion.
The Campaign for Equal Voting Access is a programme of the Centre for Citizens with Disabilities (CCD). It is the foremost campaign that focuses on persons with disabilities participation in the electoral process. it was founded in 2006 to ensure that eligible female and male persons with disabilities gain Equal Voting Access during Elections in Nigeria. The core objectives for this campaign include – Sensitizing stakeholders on Equal Voting Access for Persons with Disabilities during Elections and mobilizing Persons with Disabilities Participation in Elections. The campaign hopes to achieve this by conducting evidence-based advocacy to decision makers including the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) and the National Assembly.
David O. Anyaele
Chairman, Campaign for Equal Voting Access