Politics of Thursday, 27 November 2008
Ho, No. 27, GNA - The Volta Region branch of the Ghana Association of the Blind (GAB), on Wednesday commended the Electoral Commission (EC) for its efforts at making it easier for the visually impaired to exercise their right to vote.
The Association however appealed to the Commission to programme its training on tactile voting processes much earlier than is the case, to give visually impaired enough time to master the procedures involved. These views were expressed at a one-day workshop for leaders of the GAB in Ho, on how to vote using the tactile folders. Mr Eric Ofori, the Regional Co-ordinator of GAB said until 2002 blind people who were qualified to vote could not do so until the tactile balloting was introduced on a pilot basis in 20 pilot districts in the country.
He said since then the Commission with support of the British Department for International Development (DFID), the United States Agency for International Development (DFID) and the International Federation of Election Systems (IFES) has been working to make it less cumbersome for blind qualified voters to exercise their franchise. During an open forum participants appealed to the EC to create separate tables at the polling stations for blind voters in future elections, so that they do not cause delays at the polling stations. They alleged that in previous elections other voters became impatient with them for being slow when it came to their turn to vote. Mr Johnson Akafia, Ho Municipal Director of the EC assured the GAB members that they would not have to join the queue of voters at the polling stations on voting day. He said on reaching the polling stations, visually impaired voters should contact the Presiding Officers to take them through the necessary procedures to enable them cast their votes. Mrs Stella Abrokwa, Gender and Disability Desk Officer of the EC assured that their concerns would be conveyed to the Commission for further improvement in future elections. She said a total of 22,000 tactile folders would be distributed to all the polling stations.