Access to Ballot Box

Access to Ballot Box

Accessing the ballot box is as much about building inclusive communities as it is about improving electoral laws, policies and practices. Unless and until these issues are addressed we risk continuing to ignore the voice of people with intellectual disabilities and their families. Accessing the ballot box is as much about building inclusive communities as it is about improving electoral laws, policies and practices.

Unless and until these issues are addressed we risk continuing to ignore the voice of people with intellectual disabilities and their families. KAIH, along with organizations in Zanzibar and Lebanon, is working with Inclusion International on a project to enhance political participation of persons with intellectual disabilities.  In Kenya, KAIH is working with families, self-advocates and the Election Commission of Kenya to ensure the voting system is accessible for persons with intellectual disability.

KAIH reaffirms for effective and full participate in political and public life directly or through freely chosen representatives including the right and opportunity for PWIDs to vote and be elected by:

  • Ensuring that voting procedures, facilities and materials are appropriate, accessible and easy to understand and use;
  • Protecting the right of persons with intellectual disabilities to vote by secret ballot in elections and public referendums without intimidation, and to stand for elections, to effectively hold office and perform all public functions at all levels of government, facilitating the use of assistive and new technologies where appropriate;
  • Guaranteeing the free expression of the will of persons with intellectual disabilities as electors and to this end, where necessary, at their request, allowing assistance in voting by a person of their own choice;
  • Promote actively an environment in which persons with disabilities can effectively and fully participate in the conduct of public affairs without discrimination.

Key Programs

  1. Why does my Voice matter

The people with intellectual disabilities say,

  • I have opinions on things that are important to me
  • Kenya Citizens need to understands what is important to me and what I need to be supported to live and be included in my community
  • It is important for Kenya government to listen to us
  • My Participation can help build a community that is inclusive and responds to the needs of people with intellectual disabilities
  • Making my voice heard is what makes me an equal citizen. I don’t want to be left out!
  • When my voice is heard we know that ALL voices are heard. This makes our community better for EVERYONE
  • When Kenyan government understands what is important to me, the government can make laws and policies that include everyone

Political  Participation

Political participation is about having a say on what is important to People with intellectual disabilities and how people with intellectual disabilities want Kenya to be. This includes the people with intellectual disabilities right to vote and have their voice heard on laws and policies.

Political participation is about:

  • Making sure Kenyan government and political parties include priority issues of people with intellectual disabilities.
  • Voting on the election day
  • Getting people in the Kenyan government to follow through on the promises that have made to people with intellectual disabilities and their families
  • Working together with other organizations to make sure the Kenyan government is asked questions about disability when they are reviewed by the Committees at the united nation.

Article 29 of the CRPD

Article 29 of the convention on the rights of people with disabilities (CRPD) points that political participation is about making sure that:

  • Voting forms, locations and procedures can be accessed by People with intellectual disabilities
  • People with intellectual disabilities are able to vote in secret on the day of elections
  • People with intellectual disabilities are supported to get identity cards and birth certificates  and thereafter register as a voter
  • Voting information such as the location of polling stations and the candidates is available in accessible formats. This could be plain language or using pictures
  • People with intellectual disabilities can choose who can support them to vote. This is sometimes called voting assistance.
  • People with intellectual disabilities can be elected to hold public office
  • People with intellectual disabilities can participate in civil society organizations which are concerned with public and political life of a country  as well as the administration of political parties
  • People with intellectual disabilities can form or join organizations which represents people with disabilities at local, regional, national and international levels

The right to vote
Article 38 of the constitution of Kenya states that, “every adult citizen has a right to freely decide on any matters of a political nature.” This includes the right to elections which are regular, free and fair, the right to freely express their will, the right to hold and election position, the right to register as a voter, and the right to exercise ones vote freely and in secret. The phrase “every adult citizen” in this article 38 in the constitution also includes persons with intellectual disabilities.

Similarly, section 29 of the Persons with disabilities Act of 2003 provides that every person with disability has a right to vote in the elections. The act also provides that the persons with disabilities may have a personal assistant whose duty is to follow their instructions in voting of members of county assembly, members of parliament, Senators, county governors and presidential elections.

Inclusive Civic Engagement

The objective of the inclusive civic engagement during the general election period was to conduct awareness on the rights of persons with intellectual disabilities to vote.

Kenya Association of the Intellectually Handicapped collaborated with families, persons with intellectual disabilities and the Independent Election and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) of Kenya to:

  • Advocate for people with intellectual disabilities to vote and their voices heard by the government of Kenya• Advocate for the dissemination National identity cards and voting cards  to persons with intellectual disabilities
  • Advocate for provision of voting materials in accessible format  for  persons with intellectual disability

KAIH conducted the following activities prior to the election:• Participation in Mock Elections. The mock elections provided an opportunity for people with intellectual disabilities to familiarize themselves with the polling station environment.

  •  Participation in the conference to rally Kenyans towards a credible and peaceful election in 2017.  The conference was organised by Independent Electral Commission of Kenya. Under the thematic Area 1 (Inclusive participation of youth, women, persons with disabilities and other marginalized groups),  Kenya Association of the Intellectually Handicapped submitted a write up titled, “My voice Matters!,Plain  language guide on inclusive civic engagement  and Inclusion briefing book”. This book   discussed the difficulty that  people with  intellectual disabilities and the youth faced and continue to face regarding their participation in the political process.