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Jakarta Post

Disabled voters in Papua fight for access to polling stations

  • Nethy Dharma Somba

    The Jakarta Post

Jayapura, Papua   /   Wed, February 1, 2017   /  11:10 am
Disabled voters in Papua fight for access to polling stations Ahead of voting day -- Local residents sort and fold ballot papers for the regional election in Jayapura, Papua, scheduled for Feb. 15. (JP/Nethy Dharma Somba)

Hundreds of voters with disabilities in Jayapura, Papua, are hoping they can cast their votes during the concurrent regional elections slated for Feb. 15.

“As Indonesian citizens with civil and political rights equal to others, we hope we can exercise our right to vote, although we have limitations” Papua-chapter Indonesia Difable Foundation (PCI) secretary Robby Yong said in Jayapura on Tuesday.

He said many people with disabilities did not have wheelchairs, while in several cases, those with severe disabilities could only lie on their beds despite the fact they had the right to vote.   

“It is our hope that their right to vote can be exercised. If it is possible, election officials could visit them in their homes, just like polling station officials visit voters who are undergoing medical treatment in hospitals or who are incarcerated in prisons,” said Robby.

According to the Papua General Elections Commission (KPU), 554 disabled voters were set to participate in the upcoming regional election in Jayapura.

Robby said that in earlier elections, many people with disabilities in Jayapura had not been able to cast their vote because they could not get to the polling stations.

In the most recent election, around 40 people with disabilities in a Difable Foundation safe house refused to go to the polling stations, claiming some of them had suffered accidents when they tried to cast their vote.

KPU Papua chair Adam Arisoi said there were no technical guidelines about serving disabled voters who did not have access to polling stations. Hence, it was their families who would hopefully help them reach polling stations to cast their votes. (ebf)

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