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Sunday, 25 January 2015

INEC to provide special ballot papers for physically challenged voters - NIGERIA

THE Independent National Electoral  Commission (INEC) Wednesday disclosed that it has designed ballot papers for the people living with disabilities to cast their votes without any assistance.
Specifically those with any form of visual defects  will vote with the aid  of what the electoral body called ‘Tattered Ballot Papers’ while the deaf and dumb will be provided with signs that will assist them to vote.
The Commission disclosed this development in Ado Ekiti during an interactive session with the members of the Association of the National Association of the People Living With Disabilities(NAPLWD).
The INEC Resident Electoral Commissioner in Ekiti, Mr Sam Olumekun , told the participants that nobody would be disenfranchised on account of disabilities in the forthcoming elections.
Olumekun, who was represented by the Commission’s Administrative Secretary, Mr Femi Agboola added that the special ballot papers were made for the blinds and had been unveiled by INEC Chairman, Prof Attahiru Jega during a visit of the group to his office in Abuja.
“It has always been the wish of INEC that nobody will be disenfranchised in these elections, particularly on account of disabilities. Electoral process is  for all category of people that are more than 18, so everybody is going to be fully integrated into the system  .
“We are assuring you that you will be fully involved in the electoral process. You will vote and nothing will change that. We are looking forward to taking receipt of these special ballot papers as soon as sensitive materials are sent to our office in Ado Ekiti”, he stated.
The REC disclosed that the Commission would train the ad hoc staff on how to guide the affected persons on how to vote with the special ballot papers.
“We are not  taking anything for granted. We are going to display all forms of sensitization and sign posters to guide the deaf, who cannot easily understand the rudiment of voting. You belong to a critical sector of our society and you can’t be left out in any election”.
Urging the members to troop out en masse to exercise their franchise rights on the day of elections, Olumekun  assured that security agencies would be on ground to checkmate violence  that could scare them from participating in the polls.
The Chairman of the NPLWD in Ekiti State, Mr Peter Ojo, described the INEC preparation towards the forthcoming polls,  as commendable.
Ojo said the group had got assurances from Prof Jega that there would be special provision for them to be able to participate in voting, urging the electoral body to implement the agreement  to prevent his members from being disenfranchised.
“The issue of insecurity must also be addressed because if there is violence, the lames and the blinds will be scared . They won’t be able to participate in such election because nobody wants to die no  matter how hopeless your situation is”, he pointed out.

Source: The Guardian  - Nigeria , 21st Jan 2015

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