The Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) now says the visually impaired voters will not have the option of doing so independently as the ballot papers will not be printed in braille.
IEBC chairman, Wafula Chebukati, stated on Saturday, July 17, that the visually impaired will be assisted by trained Commission personnel who will be located in every polling station across the country during the General Election.
“In this coming election, we are not going to have braille material in the form of ballot papers. As a Commission, we have actually moved a step ahead, we have voter education material in braille,” Chebukati stated.
In previous elections, visually impaired persons were allowed to vote via an assistant who was obligated to take an oath of secrecy prior to the exercise.
In the upcoming August polls, only presiding officers will be allowed to assist them in the exercise. These officers are trained in such a way that they will keep their votes secret.
However, the agent will stand behind to listen in to what the presiding officer will ask the voter for instance, which candidate to choose.
The IEBC chairman noted that the Commission had made efforts to make the polls inclusive for disabled persons but the braille ballot papers would not be available because they were not budgeted for.
The IEBC chairman promised to introduce the braille ballot papers in future elections, saying that budget for the visually impaired will be factored in moving forward.
“We would like to introduce braille ballot papers in future elections, but we did not have a budget for this time. We shall factor it in our budget and in future elections” Chebukati added.
According to the World Health Organization fact sheet of 2021, out of the 39 million people living with blindness in the world, 224,000 are Kenyans. The leading cause is uncorrected refractive errors and cataracts.
The report further revealed that 750,000 other Kenyans from the 39 million globally are suffering from severe vision impairment.
The need to provide and support the visually impaired in the upcoming August polls has put IEBC on the spot after a candidate, Simeon Pikyech, last year told the IEBC selection panel that Commission should cater for ballot papers for the visually impaired.