Salvadorans with Disabilities to Document Accessibility to Electoral Process
Washington, DC – March 14, 2003 – Will citizens with disabilities be able to participate on full and equal terms in the Legislative and Municipal elections being held on March 16 in El Salvador?
More than one hundred Salvadorans with disabilities have been trained and accredited to monitor the elections to answer that question. Teams will visit polling stations in San Salvador and Santa Ana in an historic effort to study and document whether citizens with disabilities have an equal opportunity to exercise their right to vote.
This unique effort is being undertaken by the Cooperative Association of Pro-Integral Rehabilitation Independent Group (ACOGIPRI), a Salvadoran non-governmental organization (NGO) that specializes in disability issues, with the support and cooperation of the Supreme Electoral Tribunal of El Salvador (TSE), as part of IFES’ Global Initiative to Enfranchise Citizens with Disabilities.
Participants in this study include citizens with physical disabilities, citizens who are blind and citizens who are deaf, marking the first time in El Salvador’s history that citizens with different disabilities will come together in a proactive effort to make their electoral system more inclusive. As Eileen Giron Batres of ACOGIPRI states, “Democracy can only be built with the participation of all, otherwise democracy is not genuine.”
Following the election, ACOGIPRI will present to the TSE a report which identifies architectural and administrative barriers to full participation, and which recommends specific reforms to ensure greater electoral access for people with disabilities.
Funding for this program is provided by the Swedish government through the International Foundation for Election Systems (IFES), a non-profit, non-partisan NGO dedicated to strengthening democratic systems worldwide. To learn more about the IFES disability initiative, see the People with Disabilities page.