Guidelines issued for persons accompanying voters with disabilities

A person accompanying a voter with disabilities at the 5 August Parliamentary election, must carry a Certificate of Eligibility, the National Elections Commission said.

Elections Commission Chairman Mahinda Deshapriya said that under the provisions in Section 40(2) of the Principal Enactment amended by Elections (Special Provisions) Act, No. 28 of 2011 a person who is totally or partially visually handicapped or physically disabled can be accompanied by another person to assist in marking the ballot paper at the Parliamentary General Election to be held on 05.08.2020.

The person who accompanies the disabled person should be more than 18 years of age and not a contesting candidate at the Parliamentary Election.

Similarly, he should not act as an authorized agent, the leader of an independent group, polling division agent or a polling agent of a political party at the Parliamentary Election. In addition he should not be a person subject to any disability.

In order to be accompanied by a person to assist as stated above, a Certificate of Eligibility prescribed in the Fifth Schedule to the Parliamentary Elections Act should be handed over to the officers at the polling station.

The form to be used to obtain the Certificate of Eligibility can be collected from all Grama Niladhari offices and District Elections Offices. The visually or physically disabled person may obtain an application form from the Grama Niladhari. The Grama Niladhari endorsement should be obtained to the duly filled form and then it should be submitted to a Government Medical Officer who will examine the elector and certify the eligibility of the elector.

The disabled elector should proceed to the polling station with his official poll card, National Identity Card or any other identity document acceptable at the polling station and his Certificate of Eligibility and accompanied by the person who is named to assist the elector. The staff at the polling station having ascertained the identity of the elector, go through the normal procedure and issue a ballot paper to him/her.

The elector will then be directed to the Senior Presiding Officer along with the accompanying person. It is also essential that the person accompanying the disabled voter should also bring his own National Identity Card or any other identity document which is acceptable at the polling station.

The Senior Presiding Officer will collect the elector’s Certificate of Eligibility and obtain a written statement from the accompanying person, which is at the bottom of Part II of the Certificate of Eligibility.

Subsequently, the elector, the accompanying person and a member of the polling staff will proceed to the voting cubicle. There, in the presence of the Senior Presiding Officer and the member of staff, the ballot paper will be marked and inserted in to the ballot box.

It is emphasized that no assistant can be taken to the polling station without a Certificate of Eligibility. The Certificate of Eligibility will be retained with the Senior Presiding Officer after the disabled person casts his vote.

It is also notified that any disabled elector who is unable to bring a person to assist can cast his vote through the Senior Presiding Officer of the elector in the presence of another officer as at previous elections. (Colombo Gazette)