People with Disabilities (PWDs) have expressed worry over the decision of the Electoral Commission of Ghana (EC) to carry out the upcoming limited voter registration exercise in its 268 district offices.
The EC, per its schedule, is supposed to have limited registration between Tuesday, September 12, and October 2, 2023, for persons who have turned 18 and above from the year 2020 to date.
Mr. Courage Wormenor, the National Vice President of the Ghana Society of the Physically Disabled, said in an interview with the Ghana News Agency in Tema that PWDs would face a lot of challenges and stood a chance of being disenfranchised if the EC went ahead with its plans.
He said accessibility was a major challenge for them, stating that most of the district offices of the EC might not be accessible to some PWDs, especially those with physical disabilities who use clutches and wheelchairs.
He said this would make it difficult for them to reach the EC offices where the registration would take place, stressing that this has the potential of limiting their ability to exercise their right to vote as they would not be able to register with the current arrangement.
He said they anticipate having communication challenges for the speech and hearing impaired, as according to him, it is public knowledge that there are no sign language interpreters at the EC offices; therefore, such persons might struggle to communicate effectively with registration officials.
Mr. Wormenor said that since exercise is being carried out at the offices, PWDs might not have access to enough information on the exercise as publication on it is low, and most of them reside in rural areas far away from the offices where they could chance on information.
Cost was another challenge that could create a significant barrier, explaining that PWDs per the arrangement would have to transport themselves together with their devices, such as wheelchairs and clutches, to the district offices from their remote location, adding that since a number of them do not have Ghana Cards, they would have to pay for the transportation of two other persons to go and guarantee for them.
He said if the EC sends the registration closer to the people in their communities, such a cost would not occur as they would freely move to the centres to register without transportation.
He therefore appealed to the EC on behalf of the PWDs to look at their plight and bring the registration closer to them, adding that measures must also be put in place to ensure smooth accessibility and communication for them during the limited registration exercise.