People With Disabilities Say They Are Left Off Mon State’s Voter List

By NETWORK MEDIA GROUP (NMG)
Tuesday, August 26, 2020

The Mon State Disabled People’s Association is concerned that thousands of people living with disabilities in the state will be unable to vote in Burma’s 2020 election.

Saw Aung Thein Tin, chair of the association, said that there are at least 20,000 people with disabilities in Mon State who are eligible to vote, but not all have been told that they have the right to do so.

According to the Mon State Election Commission, there are more than 4,070 people with disabilities on the current voter list.

Saw Aung Thein Tin said that the discrepancy is often due to documentation.

“It’s because they don’t have a national ID card and the respective election commission has failed to include these people on the voter list,” Saw Aung Thein Tin told NMG of the estimated 15,000 people whose names were not included.

He said that many people with disabilities lack the funds needed to pay fees associated with obtaining a national ID card, and are frequently excluded from information campaigns about electoral matters. This leads to them losing their voting rights, he explained.

Saw Aung Thein said that polling stations also may not be wheelchair accessible, making it difficult or impossible for people with disabilities to vote.

“We already trained those in charge and the staff of the polling stations on how to help disabled people when they come to vote at the polling station. We have already included it in the by-law and work procedures,” Hein Lin Htet, head of Mon State’s Election Commission, told NMG.

Since there is no school or training center for people with disabilities in Mon State, there will be no separate polling station for them, he added, but suggested they vote in advance from home if they cannot come to the polling stations available.

According to Article 42(b) of Burma’s election by-law, if a voter is disabled, their immediate family member can assist them in voting at the polling station. The voter, however, is required to submit their vote into the ballot box by themselves. If they are unable to do so, a staff member must do it for them.