IFES Trains Indonesian Regional Election Administrators on Disability Rights
By Rebecca Aaberg, IFES Inclusion Officer, Program Development and Innovation
The International Foundation for Electoral Systems (IFES), the lead partner in the General Network for Disability Access (AGENDA), piloted the disability rights and elections module of the Building Resources in Democracy, Governance, and Elections (BRIDGE) curriculum in Bogor, Indonesia from April 6-7, 2016. Participants discussed disability inclusion throughout the election cycle with regional Commissioners, and the pilot module was facilitated by IFES, the Australian Electoral Commission, and a former General Election Commission of Indonesia (Komisi Pemilihan Umum [KPU]) Commissioner from South Sulawesi. The pilot was made possible through the support of the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade. Participants included 15 regional KPU election organizers from Jakarta, Lampung, Papua, Aceh, Banten, West Sulawesi, Gorontalo and Bangka Belitung, five members of the secretariat of the national KPU, and two national Commissioners, as well as several participants from the disability rights community. The training focused on identifying barriers to political and electoral participation of people with disabilities and creating strategies to increase election access.
IFES Indonesia Chief of Party David Ennis and KPU Commissioner Ferry Kurnia Rizkyansyah officially opened the training, providing welcoming remarks that outlined the importance of disability rights to conducting fully inclusive elections. The training covered topics such as equal access during each part of the election cycle, accessible polling places, voting rights of persons with intellectual and psychosocial disabilities, and voter education targeting persons with disabilities to increase participation. After these activities, one Commissioner noted that he learned accessible information should be provided before, during, and after elections.
Using the BRIDGE methodology, trainers facilitated discussion on inclusion of persons with disabilities through interactive activities. During a poll station simulation organized by AGENDA, participants gained first-hand experience of barriers faced by persons with disabilities in the voting process. This activity highlighted both physical accessibility of polling stations and training of poll workers to be prepared to assist voters with disabilities.
“The training opened my eyes and made me see that there are still many things that the KPU has not been doing or paying attention to concerning access for people with disabilities.”
– Ridwan Hadi, SH, Chairman of the Aceh Independent Election Commission
Several participants noted that the training empowered them to find new ways to integrate disability rights into their work on elections in Indonesia. Commissioner Ir. Hj. Pipip Rif’ah indicated that persons with disabilities should be involved in training for election administrators “in order for it to be right on target in providing services to persons with disabilities.” Additionally, the training provided a venue for discussions on universal design of polling places to increase accessibility and challenged participants to empower all persons with disabilities to participate in political life.
This is the first BRIDGE module to focus on access and inclusion of persons with disabilities to political participation and has been developed by IFES through pilot testing in several countries, including Egypt, Haiti, Myanmar, Nepal, Sri Lanka and Ukraine.