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NGO calls for NEC to assist disabled in voting process

During the 2014 commune elections, people queue at a voting station in Phnom Penh that offers limited access for people in wheelchairs.
During the 2014 commune elections, people queue at a voting station in Phnom Penh that offers limited access for people in wheelchairs. Heng Chivoan

NGO calls for NEC to assist disabled in voting process

An NGO working with disabled people yesterday called on the National Election Committee to identify people with disabilities on its records, to enable the body to provide them with aid during elections over the next two years.

Ngin Saorath, director of the Cambodian Disabled People’s Organisation, suggested that the NEC add a column to the voter registration list to mark disabled people.

“In every election, the NEC does not know how many disabled people will come to vote, so they can’t facilitate them,” Saorath said.

If polling officials were aware of voters’ disabilities, they could mitigate issues faced over previous elections, such as access to polling stations for people in wheelchairs, he added.

However, NEC spokesman Hang Puthea said it would be difficult to add an additional column to the voter list because of “technical constraints”.

“The servers NEC has installed for the new voter registration list could be burdened if they store more data than was planned,” Puthea added.

He said the Election Law did not stipulate differentiation of disabled persons on voter lists, but added that the suggestion was yet to be dismissed.

Koul Panha, head of election monitor Comfrel, said that, according to the law, people with disabilities were treated on par with those without disabilities, but this necessarily did not have to prevent the NEC from identifying disabled voters.

“It is very hard in Cambodia as there is no system to assist the disabled. They treat disabled people like any other person,” he said.

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