Is the official electorate information produced by the Election Management Body accessible to all?
This question ask if the official electorate information, produced by the Election Management Body, regarding information on elections, voter registration, modalities of voting and accessibility of voting procedures, ballots and facilities – is available in various forms (including sign language, accessible to screen-readers, audio, braille, electronic and easy-to-read and understand versions).
40% of respondents replied the official electorate information is only partially accessible and easy to understand, or is only available in some accessible formats. A few key issues were emphasised such as:
- Inaccessible language and website: websites are not accessible for all types of disability, visually impaired people especially struggle with accessing such information and there is no easy read language. Along with people with cognitive or psychosocial disabilities, they are most jeopardized by the lack of official electoral information in accessible formats. Braille was reported to be unavailable in a few countries.
- Lack of implementation mechanisms: laws on social inclusion of PWDs involves provisions relating to the circulation of media during the electoral campaign such as alternative voting procedures. However, there are often no clear regulations or instructions stating how the information material should be communicated.
“The official government websites on all levels are inaccessible as there is no reader and/or the information is given is submenu which makes it difficult to find.” (Jelena Misic, Site coordinator, Association of parpalegics, persons with polio and other physical disabilities of Doboj Region, Bosnia and Herzegovina)
“Since candidate lists are often very long they are usually not read out loud on the public TV; they are only displayed on the screen, which can make it difficult for a blind person to know which number to mark on their voting card without someone reading them the candidate list. Candidate lists also usually aren’t available in Braille.” (Saša Mlakar, Senior advisor, Ministry of Labour, Family, Social Affairs and Equal Opportunities, Disability, Veterans and Victims of War Directorate, member of DPI, Senior advisor)
“Volunteering support: “The election bodies organized volunteers groups to support the PWDs to get information about election, the procedures, the candidates, etc. Also to monitor and make notes and reports about the possible barriers faced by PWDs during the election. Then they did evaluation and recommendation to the next election, so the PWDs will get better supports and accommodation.”(Sunarman Sukamto, director, CBR Development and Training Center (CBR_DTC), Solo, Indonesia)
Article 29: Participation in political and public life
“States Parties shall guarantee to persons with disabilities political rights and the opportunity to enjoy them on an equal basis with others, and shall undertake:
a) To ensure that persons with disabilities can effectively and fully participate in political and public life on an equal basis with others, directly or through freely chosen representatives, including the right and opportunity for persons with disabilities to vote and be elected, inter alia, by:
- Ensuring that voting procedures, facilities and materials are appropriate, accessible and easy to understand and use;
- Protecting the right of persons with disabilities to vote by secret ballot in elections and public referendums without intimidation, and to stand for elections, to effectively hold office and perform all public functions at all levels of government, facilitating the use of assistive and new technologies where appropriate;
- Guaranteeing the free expression of the will of persons with disabilities as electors and to this end, where necessary, at their request, allowing assistance in voting by a person of their own choice;
b) To promote actively an environment in which persons with disabilities can effectively and fully participate in the conduct of public affairs, without discrimination and on an equal basis with others, and encourage their participation in public affairs, including:
- Participation in non-governmental organizations and associations concerned with the public and political life of the country, and in the activities and administration of political parties;
- Forming and joining organizations of persons with disabilities to represent persons with disabilities at international, national, regional and local levels.
(UN Convention on the Rights of People with Disabilities)