, NAIROBI, Kenya, Mar 24 – The Kenya Society for the Mentally Handicapped has called on the Interim Independent Electoral Commission (IIEC) to make voter registration accessible to all adults with intellectual disabilities.
Chief Executive Officer Edah Maina said on Wednesday that the IIEC should ensure accessibility, civil and political rights were guaranteed to persons with all types of disabilities under the Disability Act of 2003.
“The Act states that all persons with disabilities shall be entitled – at their request – to be assisted by persons of their choice in voting in presidential, parliamentary and civic elections,” Ms Maina said.
She told a press conference that there were over 3.6 million people with intellectual disability out of which 1.5 million were eligible to vote.
“The way people with severe and profound disabilities appear may be different, but that does not mean that they should be denied the right to register as a voter,” she said.
“A person who is an adult may look as if they are not yet adults and with information from their parents, the registrar of persons should be able to issue them with ID’s (Identity cards) and the IIEC should provide them with a voter’s card,” she added.
Ms Maina said the IIEC should also ensure alternative modes of communication used by people with intellectual disabilities were well facilitated and information for them was augmented and processed in the right manner.
“Looking forward to the time of elections, the IIEC should be well organised to identify these unique areas of support that people with intellectual disability need and if they categorise them and note in which polling stations they expect to provide infrastructure, then it will make it more easy for the IIEC to manage the elections,” she stated.
Ms Maina said the 2007 general elections were the first in the country’s history that the persons with intellectual disabilities were allowed to participate in, and about 660 of them were able to exercise their rights.
“Although the individual right to voter education and voting was limited to 12 constituencies, the exercise remains one of the biggest milestones in the lives of persons with intellectual disabilities in Kenya,” she said.
She reminded persons with intellectual disability of their right to use all modes of communications available to them to ask for support they need to access the voter registration process.
Ms Maina said the IIEC must respect human diversity, provide reasonable accommodation, and ensure equal access to the voter registration process by all Kenyans.
“The IIEC must also recognise the reasonable time required to process communications by voters with intellectual disabilities. These needs together with their unique requirements are better facilitated in organised voter registration camps,” she said.
She said the camps would enhance the process of registering voters and promote identification of their support requirements.