2018 General Election: New voting procedures for persons with disabilities

Supervisor of Elections Mohammed Saneem. Picture: SUPPLIED

THE Fijian Elections Office (FEO) has modified the procedures for voting by persons living with disabilities in the 2018 General Election.

The new procedures, which seek to enable effective disability participation in the upcoming general election, will be followed by FEO when it comes to voting by persons with disabilities.

Supervisor of Elections Mohammed Saneem said they had sought legal opinion for these new procedures after Parliament passed the Rights of Persons with Disabilities Act and ratified the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities earlier this year.

Under the new procedures, persons living with disabilities have the opportunity to appoint a person of their choice to assist them in marking the ballot papers.

The appointee has to be a registered voter and will assist the person living with disability to mark their ballot paper inside the polling station on election day or during pre-poll.

A presiding officer appointed by the FEO will also be overseeing the process of assistance being provided by this person selected by the voter.

“The presiding officer will record the details of the voter as well as the person assisting the voter in the presiding officers record book to ensure that information regarding this assistance being provided is available for reference purposes,” Mr Saneem said.

However, in order to protect voters as well as the integrity of the elections, Mr Saneem said the FEO had imposed the requirement that a person may only assist up to two persons with disabilities.

“This change in the procedure is to align the FEO in accordance with the requirement of the Rights of Person with Disabilities Act as well as the Convention of the Rights of Persons with Disabilities,” Mr Saneem said.

“So, on Election Day or during Pre-Poll, persons living with disabilities now have the opportunity to elect a person of their choice – who has to be a registered voter – to assist them in marking the ballot papers.”

Mr Saneem also clarified that the FEO had consulted Disabled Persons Organisations in relation to this procedure prior to the approval process.

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