ARUA: Persons with disability (PWDs) have been sensitized on how to be part of the electoral process ahead of the 2021 Uganda general elections.
The voter education that took place on Sunday drew PWDs from Arua city and districts of Arua and Koboko with Visual and hearing Impairments.
The sensitization conducted by the community-based organization (CBO) West Nile Community Development Concerns Initiative (WENCDCI) in collaboration with the Electoral commission (EC) focused on the importance of participating in voting, how PWDs can cast their votes, and choosing leaders through making an informed decision.
“I am impressed by this move and it is for the first time in West Nile ‘and even Uganda’ for PWDs to be considered for voter education since the start of elections in 1996” said visually impaired Mr Christopher Osoti.
Despite expressing gratitude over the voter education initiative by WENCDCI, for another visually impaired Ms Grace Candiru, there is more that the electoral commission should do for them on polling day, especially helping them while casting their votes without being interfered by people who guide their movements who may be having different choices.
“In most cases when we want to vote, our guides (people who help us while moving) may have candidates of their own choice and in this, they can end up misleading us to vote for people of their choice. It is possible because we are unable to see what we do on ballot papers. Electoral commission needs to have modalities in place to handle such issues” Ms Candiru noted.
She added that some election officials over-dip their hands in the thumb inks, which can easily cause an invalid vote.
Ms Lydia O’bideru (hearing impairment) asked the EC to place interpreters for them at polling stations in order to also guide them while voting.
Director of WENCDCI, Mr Patrick Aviku said the two categories of PWDs are the most marginalized in terms of information delivery, an issue that may limit them from making informed choices during elections.
“PWDs should never be left behind and we all know that election is very key in our lives. It is a blessing for a country to have educated electorate where each citizen knows what it takes to participate in voting”, Aviku said.
Aviku stressed that voting is an activity through which citizens express love for their country by choosing a leader they think will present their issues for a better change in the community.
Arua district Elections supervisor, Mr Hassan Sabiti said voting is a constitutional right for citizens of Uganda to choose leaders that they think can represent them effectively at all levels of governance, a reason it is mandatory for citizens to fully participate in elections.
On demand of the PWDs to EC, Sabiti said the matter will be forwarded to the national level and called upon PWDs and the general public to fully participate on voting days that kicks off with presidential and members of parliament from 14th of this month.