No accommodations were effectively put in place across Guyana to facilitate the voting of differently-abled persons at Monday’s Local Government Elections (LGE).
When the issue was raised with the Public Relations Officers (PRO) of the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM), Yolanda Yard she called the situation “unfortunate” noting that provisions will made in the future.
According to Yard, GECOM have found it difficult to provide accessible points for the differently-abled to cast their ballots.
She however noted that assistance should be provided for those persons by employees at the various polling stations across Guyana.
“We have found it difficult in a lot of these Local Authority Areas to find buildings that can accommodate polling stations… it has to be held within a constituency as close to the person and that happening might not be the best accessible point for someone with a disability but we hope that with the comradery and assistance of persons around the polling station that some kind of arrangement could be put in place to help those persons into the polling station” Yard explained.
Yard assured that the issue will not be taken lightly by GECOM while noting that each Guyanese should be included in the voting process.
“Rather unfortunate scenario for us at GECOM, one which we do not take that lightly… It is important for us to be able to have an inclusive process and for persons not being able to access a polling station, it’s a rather unfortunate situation… It is a lesson that can be learnt for us for future planning arrangements” Yard posited.
One of those persons who found it difficult to cast her vote is 71-year-old, Evlyn Aaron of Canal No.2 who uses crutches to get around.
Nevertheless, Aaron noted that voting is important and as such, no matter the difficulties faced to attend the polling station, she made the journey anyway.
Another was 62-year-old, Kairon Lai who with the assistance of his family, slowly made his way into the Leonora Secondary School from Anna Catherina, West Coast Demerara (WCD) to exercise his democratic right.
Lai noted that it was difficult for him, especially since the polling station was situated aback the educational facility. However, he explained that his voice had to be heard which prompted him to take the long and difficult journey.
Moreover, there was also a report of an instance where a disabled elderly woman was told that she cannot vote because her wheel chair could not pass the door at the Port Mourant polling station in Berbice.