Disabled voters given equal opportunity to vote

The date for Georgia’s local self-government elections has been set for June 15, 2014. Photo by N.Alavidze
Agenda.ge, 13 Jun 2014 - 18:05, Tbilisi,Georgia

The authority in charge of the 2014 municipal elections is working hard to create an equal electoral environment for all voters including those with disabilities.

Installing ramps and including visual aid assistance at voting stations are some of the changes the Central Election Commission has implemented to ensure people with physical disabilities, visual impairments, hearing issues and more an equal voting opportunity.

To make polling stations accessible, the CEC created permanent and temporary ramps at a selection of voting precincts as well as accessible voting booths for wheelchair users.

For the 2014 municipal elections, the CEC created an additional 194 adapted precincts and 13 temporary ramps suitable for voters in wheelchairs. In total, there are 320 adapted precincts across Georgia - 127 are located in Tbilisi and 125 are located in other regions of the country.

Work to upgrade voting stations for people with disabilities started in 2012.

At selected voting stations, people with hearing difficulties will have the opportunity to use portable computers to watch a film on how to vote, accompanied with sign language.

In 3,636 election precincts, people with visual impairments will have the opportunity to vote using with special magnifying lens sheets.

An online map was created by the Social Protection League, within the project "Georgia without Barriers” to identify where the adapted election precincts are located.

In addition, mobile groups in seven cities across Georgia will operate on Election Day to assist those in wheelchairs, visually impaired or people suffering from other disabilities.

To raise awareness of the changes to many Georgian polling booths and encourage people with disabilities to vote, the CEC prepared a television advertisement, which is currently being aired on central and regional television channels and radio broadcasters.

CEC chairperson Tamar Zhvania wrote an exclusive blog for Agenda.ge, which emphasized the importance of creating an equal environment for all voters in the 2014 elections.

"Ensuring a better election environment for disabled voters is a third challenge that I wanted to discuss and it is an issue that requires our very special attention,” she wrote in her blog.

We have had a number of meetings with groups representing persons with disabilities, and every time I have been impressed by their commitment and enthusiasm. These meetings are so inspirational that they make me want to do even more for them.

Read her blog about the elections here.