December 5, 2013
Buenos Aires CitySaturday, October 5, 2013
Voting stations remain inaccessible
Buenos Aires City Ombudsman Office reported that nearly 50 percent of the supervised schools and public buildings used as polling centres for October midterms do not meet the necessary structural conditions of accessibility for handicapped voters.
The news statement released yesterday was based on the Politics and Electoral Rights Observatory’s (Odepoe in Spanish) work during last August PASO primaries when inspectors went over the voting centres and took note of all types of detected flaws.
“Conclusions show that the major failures observed were related to lack of proper structural conditions to guarantee all people’s accessibility to polling places,” said the Ombudsman Office.
It added: “Aspects such as architectural barriers (for example, differences between levels) complicated and even blocked access to those centres”.
According to the report, there were no ramps or alternative means of access to overcome those structural obstacles.
Furthermore, another important call for awareness from the civil society’s rights watchdog office implied the inadequate location of polling rooms, sometimes unreachable for voters with motor disabilities.
“Although the existence of designated rooms for voting was verified in almost all authorized polling places (95.5 percent), the main problem we saw were the sites where tickets were offered to voters,” the statement said.
These types of failures include mostly ballot papers not being placed in a visible spot or at an available level for voters using wheelchairs. One out of five centres checked by Ombudsman’s envoys, in fact, were listed in this category.
During the PASO primaries, half the buildings that worked as polling stations were included in the sampling designed by the municipal office to control structural conditions that may jeopardize citizens’ right to vote.
Other problems highlighted in the report were the lack of proper evacuation plans and emergency exits signs.
Herald Staff with Télam