Address our frustrations, don’t discard existing register – PWDs to EC
Members of the Concerned Persons with Disability of Ghana have said they have noted “with frustration and anxiety the grimly persistent stance of the EC to compile a new register of voters ahead of the 2020 general elections without considering the concerns and frailties of persons with disabilities (PWDs), especially in the midst of the war against Covid-19” and are calling on the EC to reconsider its decision.
The group said on 26 March 2020, Mrs Sylvia Annoh, Acting Director, Public Affairs of the EC, assured the electorate that it is working in close collaboration with the Ghana Health Service and the Ministry of Health for best practices to prevent the spread of the Covid-19 pandemic in its activities but PWDs are yet to be informed about how assistive agents will function in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic especially in the context of the intended new voter registration exercise.
“The protocol of social distancing as promulgated by the World Health Organisation, the Ghana Health Service and through the presidential directives will obviously be flouted when PWDs employ the services of assistive agents which they require for mobility, access and social functioning. The interaction of PWDs with assistive agents is complex and fluid and evidently intentional and accidental touching cannot be prevented,” the group said in a statement.
The PWDs noted that the apparent endangerment the registration exercise will foster on them will constitute a violation of the Persons with Disability Act 715 of 2006 and the United Nations Convention of the Rights of Persons with Disability.
According to the group, “the EC has not fully consulted with all registered political parties to determine the modalities for the registration of voters. We have rather observed with pained difficulty, the unnecessary and seeming confrontations over the matter which can expertly be resolved through fair dialogue and consideration for the welfare of all citizens. The apparent tension is causing needless frustration for PWDs and the EC will do well to lead the dialogue to instil calm. The EC must be reminded that many PWDs are unable to absorb undue panic due to the challenges that certain individual conditions present.”
The PWDs noted that many of their members have already, through the previous process, acquired the voter identification card by undergoing various forms of difficulties and do not have any other form of identification and, therefore, the proposed use of Ghana card or passport for the new register will disenfranchise many PWDs.
The group further said more visually impaired persons are looking forward to being trained to independently vote by using tactile ballots and the fact that it has not been mentioned in the context of the intended new register, is worrying.
The PWDs are calling on civil society organisations, traditional leaders, religious bodies and all political parties to reiterate their concerns to the EC for it to make the effort to avail itself of the comprehensive list of frustrations of PWDs, address them and to reconsider its decision to discard the existing register.