Complaints of lack of Disability-Friendly Voter Education and Polling Stations-Province 1, House of Representatives and Provincial Assembly Election

  November 15, 2022 By: INSEC

The Election Commission is preparing to promote voter education materials through print media, audio-visual communication, publishing, and broadcasting medium for the House of Representatives and Provincial Assembly Member Election to held on November 20.

However, voters with disability in the district have complained that there is a problem for them due to a lack of disability-friendly voter education.

Shrawanlal Rai, a sign language teacher and consultant of the Handicapped Service Association, said there had been complaints about the lack of disability-friendly election education. Even though every polling station is said to be disability-friendly, they aren’t wheelchair accessible, Rai complains. He also suggested the commission should conduct voter education in sign language.

Pradeep Phuyal, the assistant head of the Bahumukhi campus, said that the political parties profit from people with disability but skimp on making disability-friendly structures. He advocates for an environment where visually impaired individuals can vote in Braille. However, he feels that the manifestos of political parties and candidates are confined to their party rooms. There needs to be a disability-friendly structure at every local level. Phuyal has also found that various political parties cast votes against the will of people with disability in the previous elections. Even though every polling station was called disability-friendly in the previous election, it was not.

According to Setubal Ale Magar, the chairperson of the National Federation of the Disabled, Dhankuta, there are about 3,400 people with disability in the district. Magar said that there is a need for disability-friendly education. Magar says people with disabilities are facing problems voting. Magar complains that the parties have not addressed this issue and do not provide a platform to voice these complaints. Chairman Magar has requested the Election Commission to make it easier for voters with disability to vote.

Suman Basel, Secretary of the federation, said that political parties and candidates expect votes from voters with a disability but haven’t addressed their issues. As the election is the foundation of democracy, there is a need for disability-friendly education for inclusive participation in the election,

Chairperson of Nepali Congress Dhankuta Dinesh Rai said that while the coalition has conducted a voter education campaign, voter education has not targeted the community of the disabled. He said that political parties would request the Election Commission to raise awareness in the future when running voter education.

CPN-UML Dhankuta Secretary and Provincial Assembly candidate Niran Rai mentions the difficulty of conducting disability-friendly voter’s education because of inaccurate statistics on people with disability.

Chief of the District Election Office, Jayram Shrestha, talked about the precedent of the district office of ensuring government standard disability-friendly polling stations in the past. Shrestha said there would also be a disability-friendly polling station this time. However, the Center’s program for voter education is yet to be proposed in the district.

The number of voters with disability in the district of the District Election Office is around 3,000.

Ishwar Thapa