A vote for the blind

12 September, 2011, Danstan Kaunda

ECZ has introduced a blind voting template

Zambian electoral body the Electoral Commission of Zambia (ECZ) has introduced a blind voting template to be used by visually impaired people for the forthcoming 2011 general tripartite elections.

Commission’s Head of Communication, Chris Akufuna, reveal that each of the 6,456 polling stations in the country will have one voting template to guide the visually impaired people in voting during the 20th September polls.[frax09alpha]

Akufuna said this is the first time the electoral body is printing such the blind voting templates. Meanwhile, Universal Printing Group (UNIPRINT) – the company engaged by Zambian government to print this year’s ballet papers- projects manager Vik Vaid explained that the presiding officers will need to ask the blind voters if they would want to use the template and allow them to mark their own ballot paper in private.
Vaid explained that if the blind voter agrees to use the template, the presiding officer will then describe to the voter how the template works.

“Once the voter has voted the vote, the voter will be assisted from the voting booth to the ballot box to enable them place the ballot in the ballot box,” Vail said.

Vail added that the blind voters are not allowed to say who they wish to vote for but the presiding officer will read out names and party affiliation of each candidate to the blind voter.

The blind voter is supposed to make a mental note of the position of the candidate that he of she wishes to vote for when she or he hears that candidates name.

The voting template has rectangular holes matching the places on the presidential ballot papers where they are required to place an X against the name of the candidate they wish to vote for.
Mr. Vaid said that his company has been printing the similar blind voting template for other countries in the region such as Botswana, Lesotho and Tanzania.

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