Barriers to effective inclusion of voters with visual impairment in the electoral and voting processes in Zimbabwe

Emmanuel Munemo

Abstract


The thrust of this study was to determine the barriers faced by voters with visual impairment in the electoral and voting process in Zimbabwe. The study was carried out in five provinces of the Zimbabwe. The qualitative research paradigm was used. The interpretive research design was used in line with the research philosophy identified. Opportunity sampling procedures were utilised and data were generated using interviews. The study established that voters with visual impairment feared for their lives because law enforcement agencies did not provide safety guarantees in the event of politically-motivated violence erupting. It also established that contrary to provisions of the constitution, privacy was not provided for in the voting process. The study also found out that where voters with visual impairment needed assistance, the choice of who should assist them needed to come from them, and not any other person. Specialised assistance during voting was also not forthcoming. The study also revealed that the only voting format used which is normal print is not disability-friendly. Existing legislation on electoral issues was found to be not comprehensive enough. Some polling stations were not easily accessible. The study recommended comprehensive needs analysis and the introduction of alternative voting formats such as Braille, enlarged print, magnification sheets, and computer-based software was long overdue. Law enforcement agencies should guarantee the safety of voters with visual impairment in the event of political violence breaking out. In addition, electoral authorities should also revisit the issue of privacy during voting. Lastly the need for comprehensive electoral legislation catering for voters with visual impairment was required.

Keywords


barrier, Braille, inclusion, magnification sheets, visual impairment, electoral process

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