The chapter nine institution yesterday held a national briefing in Durban, KwaZulu-Natal, where organisations representing people living with disabilities voiced their concerns on challenges they faced in accessing the IEC during elections.
Mawethu Mosery, IEC provincial electoral officer, said that reaching the disabled was always a challenge because there was no perfect database of their addresses and locations.
“We do a lot of publicity in the media to invite them to write to us to indicate where they are so that we can visit them at their homes, either for registration, special votes or our voter education programmes.
“One of the things we’ve also done this year is employ people in the disability sector who have the networks of other disabled people. We also work with the disability desks of municipalities to get to know who is documented there and how we can reach them,” Mosery said.
Jace Nair, the chief executive of Blind SA, said that a lot of blind and partially-sighted people had become very despondent that, in the past, their voice had not been heard. Many had not registered to vote or, if they had, ended up not voting.
“We’ve run a campaign with the IEC to get our people to register and to encourage those who have registered to check if they’re in the right districts.
“We’ve also worked with the IEC to develop a universal ballot template, which was designed to give the blind person the independence of voting and to know that their vote is secret,” Nair said.