Thursday, November 20, 2014

Namibia: Visually impaired raise concerns over EVMs

The visually impaired have raised concerns about how they are going to vote in next week’s general elections by using the country’s new electronic voting machines.

Although some of them attended voter education programmes, they said they don’t know which number to press on the EVMs to choose their party and presidential candidate.
“The main thing is we don’t know what number goes with which political party on the machine,” Ananias Shikongo, who is visually impaired, told Namibian Sun.

Shikongo said the machine will be difficult to use for visually impaired people who do not know how to read Braille.
“If you are educated in Braille, you will know what number you are touching but if you are not, it’s difficult,” he said.

Asked if he knows what he is going to do in the voting booth on election day, Shikongo replied: “Unless there is someone telling us at what numbers the political parties are, then I will not know what to do.”

Namibian Federation of the Visually Impaired (NFVI) national co-ordinator Daniel Trum, who spoke in his personal capacity, said the EVMs are easy to use, because all you have to do is press two buttons - one to vote and one to confirm.

However, he added that when he attended a demonstration, there was no list of political parties to indicate which button goes with which party.

He said he does not know if there will be someone telling him which number goes with which party and which one goes with which presidential candidate.

He said someone cannot ask him in the booth who he was going to vote for.
“I can’t reveal it to someone, unless they read the whole list.”

Electoral Commission of Namibia (ECN) Director Dr Paul Isaak said the parties are listed in alphabetical order on the EVMs, with corresponding numbers written in Braille.

He said the visually impaired will be told what number their party or presidential candidate is.

The Namibian Sun

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