[www.inewsguyana.com] -The National Commission on Disability (NCD) met with the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM) at its Secretariat on Wednesday (January, 07) to discuss a number of issues pertaining to the differently abled and their activities before and during Election Day.
The meeting explored means of effectively facilitating persons living with disabilities on Election Day. In so doing, both entities sought to identify and reduce barriers encountered when registering and voting at elections.
“GECOM recognizes that all registered electors have equal rights to vote regardless of whether or not they are disabled. Consequently, GECOM has promised the NCD that on Election Day persons with disabilities can expect to be treated respectfully and fairly, and will be given all the assistance they need from the polling day staff present at polling places on Election Day,” a media release from GECOM stated.
It was noted that training exercises are ongoing with polling day staff, and GECOM is making “serious efforts to have polling day staff who are well-trained to take care of the needs of all voters, including the differently abled.”
The Commission is putting systems in place to have the visually impaired and electors with impaired hearing vote with ease.
“GECOM has given the undertaking to put into use a specially structured template to be placed over the ballot paper as an instrument which would assist the elector in marking his/her ballot for the Party of his/her choice…with respect to electors with impaired hearing, GECOM hopes to implement audio visual electronic advertisements and notices which will include demonstrations by a sign language translator.”
The Commission says the latter will be made available by the NCD. All new GECOM buildings are equipped with ramps for persons with physical disabilities, especially those who are wheelchair bound, in keeping with the Disability Act. GECOM said it is also exploring the possibility of having special arrangements in place at selected polling places for electors using wheelchairs.
Additionally, persons who are differently abled will be given priority access at polling stations. Representing the NCD was its Chairman, Ms. Evelyn Hamilton; Vice Chairman, Mr. Vidushi Persaud; Commissioner, Ganesh Singh and Executive Secretary, Beverly Pile.
GECOM was represented by its Chairman, Dr. Steve Surujbally, Chief Election Officer, Mr. Keith Lowenfield, Deputy Chief Election Officer, Mr. Vishnu Persaud and the Legal Officer, Ms. Juanita Barker.