Ballot Guide Developed for Blind Voters in Ghana
Representatives of the Ghana Electoral Commission and the Ghana Association of the Blind have jointly developed a ballot guide which will allow voters who are blind in Ghana to vote independently and in secret. A prototype of the ballot guide was designed during a two-day workshop in Accra on February 18 and 19, 2002. Also participating in the workshop were representatives of the Ghana Federation of the Disabled, the Ghana Federation of the Deaf, Action on Disability and Development/Ghana, and the International Foundation for Election Systems.
The ballot guide will be tested at a minimum of 500 polling stations during the district level elections to be convened in June or July of this year.
Funding for the workshop, for the production of the ballot guide, and for related voter education, is provided by the International Foundation for Election Systems, under a grant from the Finland Ministry for Foreign Affairs.
The purpose of the ballot guide is to enable blind voters to vote in secret, and independently. The ballot design recognizes that the vast majority of Ghanaian citizens who are blind are not Braille-literate. This is thought to be the first-such effort in the developing world.
Features of the ballot guide program:
• The blind voter casts their vote on the actual ballot;
• The ballot is inserted in a folder by an election official.
• The folder is the same size as the ballot;
• Holes are cut in the folder to correspond precisely to the boxes on the ballot where the voter places his/her thumb print;
• Raised dots are placed on the folder next to each hole, indicating the vertical position of the hole. For example, one dot is placed next to the top hole; two dots next to the second hole from the top; and so on.
• The top right hand corner of ALL ballots is cut away. By feeling this cut away piece, and by feeling the perforated edge on the left side of the ballot, the blind voter can independently determine that the ballot is correctly inserted in the folder. All ballots are cut in this manner so as to ensure the secrecy of the ballot cast by the blind voter. The ballots will be cut during production, and not at the polling site.
• Written instructions on the use of the ballot will be available at every polling station, to be read to the voter by the presiding officer.
• Voter education for blind voters, and poll worker training will be conducted on the use of the ballot, prior to election day. The Ghana Electoral Commission and the Ghana Association of the Blind will jointly design and implement the voter education campaign.
• Three ballot folders will be placed at each polling station participating in the pilot, in the event that any single folder is spoiled.
• Action on Disability and Development/Ghana, will oversee production of the ballot guides, in cooperation with the Ghana Electoral Agency.
# # #
IFES provides technical assistance in the promotion of democracy worldwide and serves as a clearinghouse for information about democratic development and elections. Since its inception in 1987, the Foundation has promoted democratic initiatives in more than 120 countries. For more information, please visit the IFES web site at www.ifes.org.