Comelec makes it easier for the disabled to vote
Persons with disabilities (PWDs) will find it easier to cast their votes in next year’s midterm elections.
The Commission on Elections (Comelec) on Friday issued Resolution No. 9485 providing for the establishment of accessible polling places and providing other forms of assistance to PWDs in selected voting centers to ensure that they enjoy their right of suffrage like anyone else.
Among the conveniences is the setting up of polling booths for PWDs on the ground floor of voting centers.
The Comelec said these measures were part of the state’s obligation to ensure “equality” and the “full participation” of PWDs in social life and development, including the exercise of their right of suffrage.
“The accessible polling place should be established in an area spacious enough to accommodate more than 10 PWD voters at a given time and should consider the mobility requirements of PWDs, particularly those who are wheelchair-bound,” the resolution states.
Accessible polling places
The number of accessible polling places to be established per voting center shall be based on the number of registered PWD voters in a particular center.
The Comelec said the establishment of a special polling place for PWDs shall be determined by local election officers subject to approval by the Comelec’s Education and Barangay Affairs Department.
The Comelec said PWDs who did not indicate that they had a disability in their application for registration or were unable to update their records may have to vote in the regular polling place but they will be allowed on the express lane and accompanied by an “assistor.”
The person assisting may be a relative, a member of the PWD’s household or any member of the special board of election inspectors for PWDs.
The poll agency said special boards of election inspectors for PWDs will be constituted to man the special polling booths.
To oversee implementation of the resolution, the Comelec has created a committee on PWD voting, with Commissioner Rene Sarmiento as chair, law department Director Esmeralda Ladra as vice chair and 15 other officials as members.
Covered by the Comelec’s resolution are PWDs whose disabilities are musculo-skeletal, auditory, visual or speech-related in nature. Also accorded the special voting privilege are those whose disability is “nonmanifest” or not immediately apparent but who may also need assistance from the Comelec. Jerome Aning