As part of efforts in mainstreaming disability inclusion, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has introduced a policy of recruiting Persons with Disabilities (PwDs) as ad-hoc staff deployed during elections.
INEC Chairman, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu announced that the commission has recruited and trained 35 PwDs to serve as ad-hoc staff during the Osun State Governorship Election coming up on Saturday 16th July 2022. The PwDs are members of the National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) currently serving in the state of Osun.
Speaking at a stakeholders meeting where INEC briefed about its preparation for the Osun Governorship Election, Prof. Yakubu said the commission has made adequate provisions in terms of deploying devices to assist disabled persons fully participate in the election. Some of the devices to assist PwDs include Magnifying glasses, Braille Ballot Guide and Posters.
The INEC chairman noted that the 2022 Osun State Governorship would also make history, being the first election in which the electoral body is deploying PwDs as ad hoc staff.
“To underscore our commitment to an inclusive, credible and transparent electoral process, the commission is deploying assistive devices for Persons with Disabilities (PwDs) to have a more pleasant voting experience on Election Day. Magnifying glasses, Braille Ballot Guide and Posters for voters with hard of hearing conditions will be deployed at polling unit level in areas of need based on data collected in collaboration with the PwD community.
He further explained that the revised electoral regulations and guidelines stipulate that priority attention should be accorded to PwDs at polling units to enable them cast their votes without waiting on long queues during voting.
“Beyond these measures, we also want to make PwDs to get more involved in election administration like everyone else.
“In this regard, the 2022 Osun State Governorship election will also make history, being the first election in which INEC is deploying PwDs as ad hoc staff. Thirty-five (35) serving NYSC members with one form of disability or another have been identified, trained and engaged as ad hoc staff at polling unit level.”
Yakubu appealed to all stakeholders to cooperate with the PwDs and protect them, “as well as all other ad hoc staff, in our effort to make our electoral process more inclusive and participatory.”
He reiterated the commission’s resolve to continue depolying technology in the electoral process as sanctioned by the electoral law to conduct a hitch-free and transparent election.
“The Bimodal Voter Accreditation System (BVAS) will be deployed for voter accreditation and uploading of election results on the INEC Result Viewing (IReV) portal on Election Day. Steps have been taken to ensure that the BVAS machines function optimally during voter accreditation based on lessons learnt from the conduct of recent elections.”
He said the commission had conducted a mock accreditation exercise in polling units across the state a few weeks ago, adding, “We are encouraged by the successful outcome of the mock exercise and the level of preparations by our offices.
“We have also trained enough Registration Area Technical Support Staff (RATECHs) and made adequate transportation arrangements for their rapid response in the event of reported glitches on Election Day.”
For effective monitoring of the election, the INEC boss further disclosed that the commission would activate its Zoom Situation Room to interact with everyone including accredited observers and the media to provide live update from different wards and polling units across the state. “At the same time, citizens can contact us on our various platforms such as the toll-free INEC Citizens Contact Centre (ICCC) telephone line in addition to our Twitter, Facebook and Instagram accounts,” INEC chairman added.