Disabled Need Assistance To Vote

A group assisting the physically challenged in Kachin State called for provisions to help them cast ballots for the 2020 general election when polling stations open on November 8.

U G. Zung Sau, chair of the Disabled People’s Association in Kachin state, told KNG it’s difficult for the physically challenged to vote because they can’t queue in lines like most voters. “Staff of polling stations need to provide more time for the disabled to vote.”

During previous elections, some were unable to vote because the government did not make special arrangements for them at polling stations. A law enacted in 2015 was supposed to make things better by providing training for the physically challenged on voting procedures, but training this year stopped when the pandemic occurred.

Tun Aung Kyaw, an officer for Kachin State Election Commission, told KNG the government provided several options to help them vote in the upcoming election. They can come whenever they want or cast their ballot in advance at a polling station or from the comfort of their home, after informing ward or village officials. “Two officers from the village or ward election commission will collect their advance vote from their home two days before the election.”

During the 2015 general election and 2018 by-election, the Kachin State Election Commission worked closely with the principal of Myitkyina School of the Blind to ensure students of legal age could vote.

U G. Zung Sau said laws protecting the disabled were only recently enacted. To provide additional assistance, he says his organization needs financial support from the government and the private sector. But letter requests sent to the government have gone unanswered.

Of the 1.8 million eligible voters in Kachin State, more than 1,800 are disabled. At least 18 parties are contesting the 2020 general election in Kachin State.

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