By Janice Malachi
Access Nigeria converner, Grace Jerry, training visually impaired voters on how to use the braille ballots.
- Access Nigeria observes the 2018 Osun governorship election
- Observers make interesting findings during the Osun election process
- Nigeria make history
To address the problems of inaccessibility during our polling unit audits in 2016, the Access Nigeria Campaign conducted advocacy to the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) and other stakeholders in 2017 and 2018. Among the demands made to INEC, was the introduction of Election Day written instructions to assist voters with hearing impairment understand election procedures. Also requested was the Braille or Tactile voting materials to assist voters with visual impairments to vote without assistance from another person in line with section 56 (2) of the 2010 Electoral Act, as amended.
During the election, IFA deployed Access Nigeria observers to polling units to record the use of the new innovations and other recommendations of the disability votes matter audit report. Some of these are;
- Availability and use of the INEC Forms EC40H and EC 30 PWD at the polling unit.
- Availability and use of magnifying glasses at the polling units by voters with impaired vision / Albinism.
- Priority voting for PWDs at the polling unit during accreditation and voting.
- Accessibility of the polling units generally.
- Participation of PWDs across sampled polling units disaggregated by gender
On the positive side, observers noted that nearly all of the polling units they visited (98%) INEC deployed the form EC40H, while 53% of the PUs made used of the forms to record the data of PWDs that voted. Nearly 31% of the polling units had Election Day written instructions for voters with hearing impairment. In addition, some 69% of polling units gave persons with disabilities priority in voting and about (41%) had routes that could be accessed easily by those who experience difficulty in walking.
However, Magnifying glasses were deployed to 15% of the polling units observed. Voters with visual impairments and Albinism used the magnifying glasses to vote at 50% of the polling units it was deployed. The newly introduced Braille Ballot Guide was deployed to 57% of the sampled (54) polling units visited. Voters with visual impairments used the Braille Ballot Guide to vote at 84% of the sampled polling units visited by the Access Nigeria observers.
- INEC should institutionalize PWD friendly materials like the Form EC30PWD and Braille Ballot Guide to be part of their election polling unit materials checklist. This would facilitate the seamless deployment and utilization of these materials at polling units during elections.
- INEC should begin early planning for the deployment of the Braille Ballot Guide for the 2019 general elections based on the success and lessons learned from the Osun governorship election.
- INEC should continue to improve on their deployment of Form EC40H to capture the data of PWDs on Election Day. This is critical to planning for PWDs’ inclusion and participation in future elections.
- INEC should mainstream disability rights into the training of INEC staff / ad hoc officials to ensure optimum delivery and performance during elections.
- In the lead up to the 2019 general elections, INEC should strengthen its deployment of Magnifying glasses to polling units to enable voters with impaired vision and Albinism cast their votes.
- In the lead up to the 2019 general elections, INEC should consider locating more polling units on flat surfaces and more accessible locations.
Nigeria Makes History
To assist INEC keep its commitment of providing assistive Braille or Tactile voting materials during the Osun governorship election, the Access Nigeria campaign collected the data of voters with visual impairments in the state by polling units. The Access Nigeria campaign also worked closely with INEC on the design of a Braille Ballot Guide. We are happy to Report that this Braille Ballot Guide was approved, produced and successfully deployed by INEC for the September 22, 2018 governorship election in Osun state. To ensure that voters with disabilities understand the new Braille Ballot Guide, the Access Nigeria campaign conducted a training for voters with visual impairments from the 89 polling units across 23 Local Government Areas where the guide was piloted. All participants were able to seamlessly use the guide during this training.
This is the first time an Election Management Body in Nigeria provided Braille ballots to assist voters with visual impairments to vote by themselves and IFA and its allies appreciates this achievement and look forward to working closely with INEC to improve our electoral process.
The Access Nigeria campaign appreciates INEC for making the Osun election more accessible for PWDs by adopting and deploying the braille ballot guide which was used by voters with visual impairments. The adherence to priority voting which assisted a lot of PWDs to vote early was also most commendable. We also appreciate the state executives of the Joint National Association of Persons with Disabilities (JONAPWD), the President of NAPVID, Melody Emoseh and all other JONAPWD members who observed PWD participation, access to polling units/materials for PWDs in this election. God bless the people of Osun for peaceful elections. We must also extend our profound gratitude to the National Democratic Institute (NDI), United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and British Department for International Development (DFID) for their sustained technical and financial support.
Inclusive Friends Association (IFA) and,
Coordinator, Access Nigeria: Disability Votes Matter campaign.
0706 453 7738