IFES, JCE Launch Partnership to Reach Voters with Disabilities
SANTO DOMINGO, Dominican Republic — Feb. 16, 2012 — As the Dominican Republic prepares for general elections in May, the country’s electoral commission and the International Foundation for Electoral Systems (IFES) are launching a partnership to improve access to the electoral process for persons with disabilities.
IFES President and CEO Bill Sweeney and President Magistrate Roberto Rosario Marquez of the Junta Central Electoral (JCE) will sign a memorandum of understanding today in Santo Domingo formalizing the partnership. This project is funded by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID).
“Voters with disabilities can face many barriers when casting a ballot or running for office,” said Sweeney. “IFES supports the right of all citizens to participate fully in their democracy, and we are proud to join the JCE in its commitment to protecting this right for citizens of the Dominican Republic.”
During the next four months, IFES will collaborate with the JCE on a range of activities, including training polling officials to assist voters with disabilities, recruiting persons with disabilities to serve as poll workers, developing voter education materials specifically targeting disabled voters, and working with local disabled persons’ organizations to advocate for the needs and rights of citizens with disabilities.
IFES will also work with the National Democratic Institute (NDI) to draft a training manual allowing USAID and its partner organizations to incorporate inclusion efforts into democracy and governance projects around the world.
Since 1997, IFES has taken a leading role to ensure persons with disabilities can participate fully in the electoral process as voters, election officials and candidates. Recent initiatives include working with Guatemala’s election commission to improve accessibility for disabled voters for the 2011 general elections and hosting the first-ever regional dialogue on election access in Southeast Asia earlier this month.
IFES is an independent, nonprofit leader in election assistance and democracy promotion. Since its founding in 1987, IFES has worked in 135 countries, from developing to mature democracies. For more information, visit www.IFES.org.