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Group seeks help for disabled voters

People count ballot papers at a voting station in Prey Veng province during the national election in 2013.
People count ballot papers at a voting station in Prey Veng province during the national election in 2013. Vireak Mai

Group seeks help for disabled voters

In an effort to help facilitate greater access to voter registration for the Kingdom’s disabled persons, the Cambodian Disabled People’s Organization (CDPO) yesterday put forward suggestions to the National Election Committee to pave the way for possible changes ahead of the next election cycle.

At a workshop in Phnom Penh detailing the results of a four-month study conducted by the CDPO, executive director Ngin Saoroth said that while the NEC has helped disabled persons take part in the election process, many needs have yet to be filled.

Among the recommendations was the need to compile statistics for types of disabilities that may require assistance in the voter registration process, and that officials ensure certain disabled persons have access to identity cards.

“If the NEC has data on disabled persons, it could know how many disabled persons go to one station, how many wheelchair-bound [voters],” Saoroth said.

“This could help make sure that disabled people join the election [process] without any discrimination.”

NEC spokesman Hang Puthea said that at this point, specifying disability types on voter lists was an impossibility as there are no laws governing the process and current voter lists are not designed to include such data.

Puthea added, however, that computer data on the number of disabled persons and their specific disabilities could be shared with voting station officials once the process becomes fully electronic.

Tests for the computerised system will be conducted at the end of September, he said, with registration commencing between March and May of 2016.

“The NEC never discriminates against disabled people, and it will put more effort into helping the Cambodian Disabled People’s Organization’s recommendations get accepted,” he said.

Em Chanmakara, the secretary of the Disability Council at the Social Affairs Ministry, said yesterday that there are 500,000 Cambodians with developmental or physical disabilities as of this year.