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Ekiti Gov. Election: PWDs Group Releases Preliminary Report, Decries Lack of Magnifying Glasses at Polling Units

The Campaign for Equal Voting Access for Persons with Disabilities, EVAPWD, a program of the Centre for Citizens with Disabilities, CCD, has commended the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, for the conduct of the June 18 Ekiti State Governorship election, as it observed large turnout of voters as early as 8am at the Polling Units.

The Group, which participated actively in the observation of the election, stated this in a Preliminary Statement signed by its Chairman, David Anyaele.

According to the EVAPWD Chairman, “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, PWDs. 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. It was an opportunity to observe the extent of INEC compliance to the new Electoral Act 2022.

“EVAPWD commends the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, for the conduct of today’s election, as we observed large turnout of voters as early as 8am at the Polling Units observed by EVAPWD Observers.

“It 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.

“EVAPWD observers observed that the promised Braille Ballot Paper by INEC for easy access for the Blind voters were scarcely available as it was only observed at PU 003, Ward 10, Afao/Kajola and PU 001, Ward 11, Odese in Ikere Local Government Area,” Mr Anyaele noted.

He further stated that the group’s observers did not see any magnifying glasses at the Polling Units observed, adding that when Ad-hoc Staff were asked about it, they were told that it was not available.

The EVAPWD Chairman also noted that the group 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 voting process were not available in all the polling units visited.

“EVAPWD 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/handrail, across gutter, staircase etc. The worse we observed was locating of a Polling Unit in a basement at PU 004, Ward 002, near Odo-Ado market, Ado-Ekiti LGA with no provisional elevators nor ramp to assist physically challenged voters.

“EVAPWD observed massive vote buying and selling, in particular PU 001, Ward 10, Irepodun/Ifelodun LGA, PU 002, Ward 10, Odo-Oye / Ayedun 1, Gbonyi LGA, and PU 039, Ward 11, Ado-Ekiti LGA,” he stated

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, stated as follows:

“That EVAPWD is pleased that INEC granted PWDs priority voting during the 2022 Ekiti State Governorship Election.

“That provision of assistive devices (Braille Ballots, Magnifying Glasses and location of Polling Units in accessible environments) were not observed nor sighted by our observers.

“That by this singular act, INEC has displayed minimal commitment to the implementation of the Electoral Act, INEC Framework on Access and Participation of Persons with Disabilities in the Electoral Process and the Discrimination against Persons with Disabilities (Prohibition) Act 2018.

” That EVA4PWD urges INEC to address these issues as observed by its observers, especially as the country moves towards Osun State Governorship election next month.”

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