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KPU wants disabled-friendly polling booths

The General Elections Commission (KPU) is gearing up to provide accessible polling stations for disabled voters across the country in the 2014 general election.

KPU chairman Husni Kamil Manik said Tuesday that the commission was currently working with the Election Committee for the Disabled (PPUA Penca) and other committees to create a regulation to make sure that each polling station in the next general election would be accessible for all disabled voters. 

“We want to make sure that every polling station in the next election is accessible in terms of location and assistance tools. For example, it must be reachable for those with wheelchairs, and it must provide a braille template for visually impaired voters,” he said.

Many disabled voters in the country struggle with the inaccessibility of polling stations.

Endang Purwaningsih, 60, a paralyzed voter who uses a wheelchair, said that she could not independently cast a ballot because the polling station in her neighborhood had not provided an access ramp for her wheelchair. She said that the polling station had a staircase that she could not ascend. “The officials then helped me by coming to my house so that I could vote there. But the thing is, they did not give me any privacy, so they all knew for whom I voted,” she said.

Meanwhile, Jonna Damanik, 43, who is blind, voiced a similar concern because he could not cast his vote independently during previous elections. He said that the polling station in his neighborhood had not provided a braille template.

“The officials asked my wife to help me cast my vote. I have no problem with that because I trust my wife, but I want to experience casting a vote myself,” he said.

Based on research conducted by the People’s Voters Education Network (JPPR) in the period from November 2011 to July 2012 during mayoral and gubernatorial elections in 255 polling stations with 439 disabled voters in five provinces, most polling station officials did not offer braille templates to visually impaired voters during the voting process.

The survey — which was conducted under the ASEAN General Election for Disability Access (AGENDA) project in Yogyakarta City in Yogyakarta, Mamuju Regency in West Sulawesi, South Tangerang City in Banten, Pangkal Pinang City in Bangka Belitung and Jakarta — also found that no polling stations in Mamuju and South Tangerang provided Braille templates.

Mochammad Afifuddin, JPPR coordinator, said that the main problem was a lack of understanding by polling station officials about what disabled voters really needed. “Many officials still think that helping disabled voters to cast their votes is something that they have to do. But in fact, most disabled voters do not want to be differentiated from others. They want to experience something that others experience,” he said.

Afifuddin said that KPU and JPPR were currently developing a coding system for each type of disability on voter lists so that each polling station could know exactly what they needed to prepare. (koi)

Post: The Jakarta Post, 02 Agustus 2013
Repost: Jaringan Pendidikan Pemilih untuk Rakyat (JPPR)

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