EOC Chairperson inspected the polling stations
The Chairperson of the Equal Opportunities Commission (EOC), Mr. LAM Woon-kwong, visited some polling stations today (5 November 2011) to inspect their accessibility for voters with disabilities.
“We are pleased that more than 90% of the polling stations (425 out of 452 stations) of this year’s District Council Election are accessible to wheelchair users. People with disabilities should enjoy the same right to participate in political and public life as people without disabilities,” said Mr. LAM.
In addition to increasing the accessibility rate of polling stations, Mr. LAM appreciated the Registration and Electoral Office (REO)’s efforts in putting in place a number of accommodation measures after taking into account EOC’s advice.
These measures included providing photo cards in the polling stations showing the voting procedures to help voters, particularly persons with hearing impairment and those with speech/print disabilities or language barriers; and providing information about the District Council Election in six minority languages (Thai, Hindi, Bahasa Indonesia, Nepali, Urdu and Tagalog) at the polling stations and on the election website.
After visiting the Centre for Harmony and Enhancement of Ethnic Minority Residents (CHEER Centre), Mr. LAM commented, “We have witnessed new efforts of the REO to engage ethnic minorities at the election. It is a right move as equal access to elections is an essential part of a healthy democracy and it can enhance voter participation.”
It is worth noting that, in some constituencies, though the REO has identified accessible sites, the owners/users refused to offer these venues as polling stations. The REO could then only use the inaccessible sites and re-designate alternative accessible stations for voters with mobility challenges.
Mr. LAM appealed to the owners/users of the accessible sites for their assistance and cooperation, “For people with disabilities to exercise their equal rights to political and social participation, polling stations must be accessible so that they enjoy their voting rights with dignity and independence. In offering accessible venues as polling stations, the site owner/users contribute to making elections inclusive and our society more harmonious.”
For media enquiry, please contact Ms. Mariana LAW at 2106-2226.
Equal Opportunities Commission
5 Nov 2011