Ghana’s Electoral Commission (EC) has organized a day’s capacity building training for persons with visual impairment on how to vote in the upcoming December 7, 2020, general election using tactile code.
The training followed numerous complaints and concerns raised by the group in past elections in their involvement in the electoral processes of the country.
The Sagnarigu Municipal Office of the EC ahead of this year’s Presidential and Parliamentary elections organized the platform to sensitize the group on how to use the tactile jacket to participate in the polls.
Tactile code (Braille) is used by the blind people to read and write.
The EC Returning Officer in the Sagnarigu Municipal, Mr. George Mumuni Yidana explained to THE CUSTODIAN the importance of the training to the visually impaired group as a stakeholder in the electoral process.
He underscored the need for the EC to take the group through the use of the tactile jacket at the polling station.
“We had series of complaints from the visually impaired persons that they have been discriminated against over the years each time they get to the polling station in as much as we want the ballot to be in secrecy, they want to be treated fairly as they are also Ghanaians” he explained.
Mr. Yidana noted that the use of the tactile jackets will help the blind to identify the positions of each and every candidate on the ballot paper.
He added that the material is designed with an opening where the voter can slot in the ballot paper to match the positions of the candidates and each of the positions having a noddle (notch).
“So for the first position we have one noddle, second position we have two noddles and third position we have three noddles and so on… For the presidential we would have about twelve noddles because we have twelve candidates” he emphasized.
“So when the impaired persons get into the polling station the ballot paper is slotted inside the tactile jacket and that one would enable the visually impaired person make his or her own choice and comes out fold the ballot paper the way it was folded for him or her and put inside the ballot box. With this, secrecy is one number, number two we try as much as possible to reduce to the barest minimum the number of rejected ballots. So we usually tell the visually impaired if you go inside the screen to make your choice, make sure you thumbprint for only one candidate but if you thumbprint for more than one candidate then at the time of counting the ballot would be rendered rejected ballot so the training was very fruitful” Mr. Yidana stressed.
Meanwhile, one of the participants Madam Mercy commended the electoral commission for the training and urged her colleague visually impaired persons to come out in their numbers to vote on December 7.
“We want to vote independently, so each and every one of us should try to go out there and vote and those of us who were here should do our best to educate at least 10 to 50 people so that together we would all learn to vote and vote independently”, Madam Mercy said.
She also called for peace before, during and after the general election.