Persons with disability are asking the Electoral Commission (EC) to adopt guidelines they believe will facilitate their participation in the December elections.

The Ghana Federation of Disability Organizations (GFDO) says a failure of the Commission to implement what it describes as disability-friendly measures will disenfranchise many of its members.

The Federation has been engaging EC officials on the subject in Kumasi.

Key among issues raised by the federation in the 22-page guidelines includes a provision of tactile ballot jackets and training of physically challenged persons on how to use them.

“You go to some polling stations and the EC officials tell you they don’t know anything of that sort. Those who insisted got the officials going back to check to get the tactile ballot for them. It's either EC does not stress on that provision or some of them are just being difficult,” Election Project Coordinator, Joshua Makubu said.

The Federation says some of its members were unable to cast their ballots in previous elections due to such unfavorable conditions.

Physically challenged want EC to adopt its guidelines on participation of PWDs

Mr Makubu added that some visually impaired were aided in casting their ballots in 2012, which according to him, defeated the secret ballot system.

“The tactile ballot is very critical because the reason why we don’t raise our hands to show those we want is to show the secrecy of our votes. So if I go to the polling station as a blind person and someone has to vote for me it means my vote is no longer secret,” he said.

According to the Federation, training for persons with disability on the use of the tactile ballot is often delayed, leaving  physically challenged with difficulties in its usage.

The guideline also cites an unfriendly physical structure by some polling stations which officials say creates inconvenience to voters.

“In previous elections, some of our people get in the queue at the polling station but because they are exposed to so many hazards they leave without voting,” he said.

The guideline also charges the EC to ensure there is preferential treatment to its members because according to leaders, without it some of it members will not go to the polling station and vote at all.

Meanwhile, Commission officials have acknowledged concerns raised by the Federation.

It says there are plans to give persons with disability and the aged some relief.

Ashanti Regional Deputy Director, Lawrence Sarpong, says the Commission will address the tactile ballot jackets issue.

 

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