National Electoral Commission releases survey results

Dec 9, 2017

Zainab Sesay, Freetown, Sierra Leone ©UNDP Sierra Leone/Carolyn Williams-Gerdes

As Election Day draws nearer in Sierra Leone, UNDP is working with the National Election Commission (NEC) and the National Commission for Persons Living with Disabilities (NCPD) to ensure that every eligible voter is able to exercise his or her right to cast their ballot – including those who may be challenged to walk, communicate, or even just to hold a pen.

More than 15 percent of the global population – roughly one out of every seven – lives with some form of disability; and the NEC is acutely aware of the importance of accommodating this demographic.

Participation is fundamental to the credibility of election results. Moreover, says the NEC, it would be “difficult for a country to call itself a democracy without maintaining a participatory and inclusive political environment in its policy.”

From 6 October – 17 November, UNDP supported the NEC to conduct 16 workshops in districts across the country, engaging people with disabilities to identify their greatest challenges in the electoral process – as voters and potential candidates – and to determine ways to address them.

Group discussions were followed by completion of surveys on themes ranging from legal framework to the practical very barriers participants have encountered in the process of registering, voting and receiving information about elections. The surveys have been used both to raise awareness and to inform practical changes that will facilitate greater electoral participation.

The report is the first survey of its kind to be produced in Sierra Leone and will serve as a snapshot of the accessibility of persons with disabilities to the 2017 process. The complete report may be accessed here.

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