Inclusive elections

In order for persons with disabilities to participate on an equal basis with others in electoral processes, laws must uphold this right and voting processes, facilities and materials must be accessible to them.

The resources below provide practical examples of working with civil society and states to ensure that persons with disabilities can participate in voting. Broader awareness raising activities have ensured that they (and their communities) are aware of the right to vote.

See also: Accessible infrastructure and communications, Participation of persons with disabilities.

Inclusion Design Lab Accessible voting for people with intellectual disabilities website

This website is a Victorian government site specifically designed for people with an intellectual disability. The website is fully accessible, offering multiple formats for the information presented. It includes links to other helpful websites such as the electoral commission and viewers can also download a comprehensive booklet which is designed for supported reading. As well as being a resource on democracy in Australia and the rights of people with an intellectual disability to participate in voting, this website would be an excellent example of best practise for people working in the development sector, in governance and influencing the governments of other countries to make voting more accessible in their respective countries. It would also have application for teaching children about democracy and voting.

Orante, Bea, 12 March 2016, in Rappler. #PHVote: How accessible are the 2016 elections to PWDs? Webpage

This article was written in the lead up to the Philippines federal elections in 2016, with the aim of examining what people with disabilities were entitled to expect in relation to accessible polling places and also past lessons from previous elections. The article contends that despite people with disabilities being promised under Philippine law: • support for voter registration, • the right to vote (including accessible polling places) and • support to complete ballot papers In the past there had been failings in these areas, such as: • People with disabilities and those who are illiterate are meant to inform the electoral commission beforehand, but this is realistically hard to do without support • Despite guidelines for accessible polling places, many did not meet the guidelines, for example they are mandated to be on the ground floor, but many still included steps. • Lack of transportation hindered people with disabilities getting to the following places.

International Foundation for Electoral Systems (2014) Equal Access: How to Include Persons with Disabilities in Elections and Political Processes (PDF 3.33 MB)

Drawing on international standards including the United Nations Convention on the Rights of People with Disabilities, this manual provides the information and tools to enhance the participation of people with disabilities in elections and political life. The publication is intended for use by donors, governments and civil society organisations working to ensure meaningful participation of persons with disabilities in elections and political processes. This resource can be used as a practical toolkit for key stakeholders involved in the electoral processes as to guide policies and programmes that endeavour to increase the political participation in elections of people with disabilities. The manual also includes good practice examples.

International Foundation for Electoral Systems (2013) Equal rights: Equal Access (Youtube video)

This short video features voices of persons with disabilities who have been impacted by IFES’ programming in electoral access.

US Department of Justice (2004) ADA Polling place checklist (HTML)

This checklist, formulated by the US Justice Department under the Americans with Disabilities Act gives specific practical guidelines to provide for accessible polling places. The checklist provides useful information for those involved in planning polling stations.

International Foundation for Electoral Systems Inclusion of persons with disabilities (regularly updated)

This website details the mission of IFES, who work around the world to secure and protect the electoral rights of all people, including persons with disabilities. Engaging with all stakeholders is critical to guaranteeing all voices are heard. This site provides links to case studies, good practice examples and videos that will assist disability inclusive development programming in this sector.

ElectionAccess.org (regularly updated)

This website is a clearinghouse for information on the participation of persons with disabilities in the electoral process. It is an initiative of IFES, funded by a grant from the Finnish Ministry for Foreign Affairs. The Laws and regulations section provides a country-by-country analysis of election laws, constitutions and related regulations conducted by IFES researchers, and analysis of how these laws impact upon citizens with disabilities. Global standards are set out in the Rights and Standards section, and good practice examples are include in Best Practices. The Publications section provides a number of reports, papers and published news articles on voting rights and accessibility issues for people with disabilities.

AGENDA (General Election Network for Disability Access)

AGENDA is a coalition of several Civil Society Organisations and Disabled Peoples Organisations in Southeast Asia to promote electoral rights of persons with disabilities. A 2-year, USAID-funded Project in seven countries in South East Asia (Indonesia, the Philippines, Myanmar, Vietnam, Laos, Malaysia, Cambodia, and Thailand), which aimed to improve access to political, and electoral opportunities for people with disability. DPOs joined with election Civil Society Organisations including the International Foundation for Electoral Systems (IFES) to conduct research and share best practices on disability access. AGENDA network partners developed new regional election monitoring activities and raised awareness about access issues in elections. Though the project has now ended, its website continues to share knowledge, and has a range of helpful resources and tools (including manuals, public outreach materials and checklists in multiple languages) from the project which could inform similar approaches or initiatives elsewhere.

Andrew Devenish-Meares (2013) Road testing telephone voting

This case study from the Australian Electoral Commission outlines the experience of Andrew Devenish-Meares, who road tested a new telephone voting system for blind and low vision voters in Australia in 2011. He recounts the types of barriers he has faced as a person with a vision impairment in voting in the past, and how much he values the right to a vote unassisted. The case study highlights how technology is helping to secure the right to a secret ballot for persons with disabilities.

Washington Group on Disability Statistics technical presentation

Jennifer H. Madans Ph.D., Associate Director for Science, National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS) and Mitchell Loeb,
Health Scientist, NCHS from the secretariat of the Washington Group on Disability Statistics delivered a technical session
on how to use the Washington Group questions in monitoring data systems and how to disaggregate data by disability
followed by a question and answer session at the University of Melbourne on Thursday, 30 April 2015. The presentation
was organised by the Australian Government Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade.

Presentation from the Washington Group on Disability Statistics
A man from Indonesia who has no arms, uses his foot to place a ballot paper in the locked metal ballot box. The ballot box is high on a table. Three men are watching from the other side of the table.

Photo: Meredith Applegate

A General Election Network for Disability Access (AGENDA) conference held in Yogyakarta, Indonesia in 2011 included training that demonstrated some of the obstacles that persons with disabilities face on election day. Copyright: International Foundation for Electoral System, 2014