Malawi Union of the Blind (MUB) has asked the Malawi Electoral Commission (MEC) to make it possible for visually impaired voters to vote independently.
MUB says the only way to ensure that visually impaired people vote independently is by introducing the tactile ballot guide and training polling staff about the guide so that the voters are properly helped during polls.
A tactile ballot guide is a template that is used by blind voters who do not wish to be assisted by a friend or a polling officer in marking the ballot (in secret).
In an interview on the sideline of a sensitization meeting with Nsanje Civil Society Organization (CSOs) on education of Children with disabilities on Tuesday in Nsanje, Education Officer for MUB, Stuart Chauluka, said he hopes that MEC will assist the visually impaired to vote with ease.
“On election, we are focusing on access to information, so that it is accessible to people with visual impairment, it should be in braille and larger print.
“And to ensure that people with visual impairment are able to vote independently, there is need to use the guide we introduced in the 2014 elections,” said Chauluka.
He added that he knows that MEC is willing to help since the Commission rendered them help during registration and that there is no doubt they will help them with resources to procure materials where voting information can be put in braille.
In an interview, a participant from Youth Coalition for Democracy (YCD) Tiyamike Chochoma said the sensitization was an eye-opener and she is now able to understand several ways through which people with different impairments are subjects to human right violation
“When I go to where we disseminate election messages, I will try to include the element of people with disabilities because we haven’t been inclusive on our messages and that will help such people to participate in all the activities we do,” said Chochoma.
She called upon various organizations to support MUB with resources so that discrimination against people with impairments is eradicated.
Apart from messages on elections, MUB is sensitizing CSOs on inclusive education to support and promote education of children with disabilities especially those with visual impairment.
Currently, MEC is sensitising people to go and verify their names in the voters roll in places where they registered.