Create more registration centres - PWDs to EC
Person with Disability (PWD) in the country have called on the Electoral Commission (EC) to rescind its decision to use only 268 out of the 1,500 gazetted offices of the commission for the upcoming voter registration exercise.
The use of limited offices, they said, would impose unbearable cost and affect the participation of first-time registrants, as well as create unnecessary tension in the registration exercise.
“The EC must make the effort to listen to the concerns of Persons with Disability to rescind its decision and create a better spread of its registration centres by undertaking the exercise in the existing 6,272 electoral areas,” the group said in a statement signed by the National Coordinator of the Disability Desk of the National Democratic Congress (NDC), Frederick Assor, on August 28.
The statement said the appeal followed consultations by the NDC Disability Desk with the Persons with Disability across the 16 regions.
It described the decision of the EC as ill-considered, insensitive and purported to suppress the registration of PWDs.
It indicated that the EC’s arrangement was an apparent disregard of the attributes of the various types of disabilities and the unbearable long distances persons with disabilities would have travelled to access the registration centres.
It pointed out that in some communities, persons with disability would have to travel by boat, and many first-time registrants would have to go through difficulties of locating the district offices, adding that “there are, for instance, sparse areas in the northern regions and the district offices are not easy to locate”.
Furthermore, it mentioned that many Persons with Disabilities were already fighting to acquire their Ghana Cards and would have to travel with two guarantors over long distances to these district offices to get registered.
Reminding EC of the presence of persons with disabilities across the country, it indicated that a few or many of the persons with disabilities were residents in difficult terrain such as Nkwanta, Nzulenzu, Amedzorpe, Obomofodensua, Asesewa, Jimbale, Donkorkrom and Drobonso.
“It is noteworthy that such difficult travels for a Voter Card are not one-way trips but round-trips which require registrants to find their way back home after the exercise. In the special case of the deaf, an interpreter is required for meaningful communication to take place,” it said.
“It is already financially burdensome for many Persons with Disabilities to singularly transport themselves, so the proposition for them to bus others for the purpose of registering is offensive,” it added.
It also stated that women with disabilities in the country’s northern, middle and coastal belts were unhappy with the distances they have to travel and were incensed about the disregard for pregnant women, breastfeeding mothers and the elderly.
It said the women expressed discontent with the long queues and frustration that would be presented to the most vulnerable, saying “the EC’s restriction to these difficult-to- reach 268 registration centres is questionable and supposes a clear intention to suppress the inalienable right of all eligible persons to register”.
The statement, therefore, sought the attention of civil society organisations, traditional leaders, religious bodies, advocates for disability rights and progressive forces and all political parties to reiterate their concerns against EC voter suppression.