Namibia: Visually Impaired Denied Right to Vote

People standing in line at the Erongo Regional office to get their duplicate voter cards.
22 November 2019

PEOPLE who are visually impaired have been sidelined when it comes to exercising their democratic right to cast their votes during elections due to a lack of guidance materials.

The chairperson of the Namibian Federation for the Visually Impaired, Moses Nghipandulwa, yesterday said this in a bid to urge the Electoral Commission of Namibia (ECN) to cater for all people on 27 November.

Nghipandulwa, whose federation has close to 16 000 members, explained that its members suffered at the polls during the last elections because the ECN could not cater for them, while family, caretakers or friends took advantage and coerced them into voting for their preferred candidates.

"In some cases, visually impaired people would go to the polls, and the ECN officials would just press buttons for them. This leaves them questioning if their vote was cast for the party they want to vote for, or not.

This makes one to question the fairness of the elections," he stressed.

Nghipandulwa said in the past, the ECN had failed to consider challenges faced by the visually impaired, the deaf, and others living with disabilities.

"They do not have sign language interpreters at the polls, and in some cases, the venues are not wheelchair-friendly.

This affects a person's dignity, having to be carried," he continued.

ECN spokesperson Vikitoria Hango did not respond to questions sent to her.

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