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T HE E LECTORAL P ARTICIPATION OF E LECTORS WITH D ISABILITIES : C ANADIAN P RACTICES IN A C OMPARATIVE C ONTEXT Presentation to Elections Canada March.

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Presentation on theme: "T HE E LECTORAL P ARTICIPATION OF E LECTORS WITH D ISABILITIES : C ANADIAN P RACTICES IN A C OMPARATIVE C ONTEXT Presentation to Elections Canada March."— Presentation transcript:

1 T HE E LECTORAL P ARTICIPATION OF E LECTORS WITH D ISABILITIES : C ANADIAN P RACTICES IN A C OMPARATIVE C ONTEXT Presentation to Elections Canada March 30, 2012 By Michael J. Prince

2 P URPOSE AND O UTLINE Purpose: To report on recent research for EC meant to deepen understanding of the electoral participation of persons with disabilities Outline: Conceptual framework Barriers faced by electors with disabilities International best practices Canadian electoral practices Recommendations Discussion 2

3 C ONCEPTUAL F RAMEWORK Environment of public policy, disability activism, and other institutions UN Conventions, human rights codes and disability discrimination laws Litigation and court or tribunal decisions Political party candidate, platforms and campaign practices Public transportation services Disability advocacy and service provider organizations Electoral framework and practices Electoral systems Election legislation Registration processes Voting technologies and methods Voting polls and facilities Election materials Election officials and workers Electors with disabilities Type and severity of disability Age and other demographic characteristics Living arrangements Immediate milieu of family, friends, neighbours, caregivers Personal supports and services 3

4 B ARRIERS FACED BY ELECTORS WITH DISABILITIES BarriersExample Issues Architectural/ built environment Inaccessible polling stations, booths, or voting methods Attitudes and culturalPrejudicial assumptions and beliefs of family members, care facility staff, election workers Communication/ informational Inadequate or inaccessible signage, instructions, ballots, web sites Legal and PolicyLegislative gaps or restrictions, weak implementation, resource constraints of disability groups and electoral bodies Socio-economic disadvantages Unemployment, poverty, lower levels of education 4

5 I NTERNATIONAL BEST PRACTICES CountrySelected Practices Australia Drive-through polling places Desktop voting screens Telephone voting Post-election surveys TTY service New Zealand Personal assistance for disabled electors United Kingdom Tactile voting devices Large print posters of ballots Pilots of e-voting at kiosks, internet voting, telephone voting, text messaging, and digital TV voting United States Curbside voting eSlate and other electronic tools Sip and puff systems 5

6 C ANADIAN E LECTORAL PRACTICES Selected Best PracticesJurisdiction(s) CEO powers to test alternative voting methods CA, NB, ON, AB, BC Dedicated webpage for electors with disabilities CA, NS, NB, QC, ON, SK, BC, NU Template for visually impaired electors CA, NL, NB, QC, ON, MB, SK, AB Sign languageCA, QC, ON, YK, NT Assistive voting toolsCA, NB, QC, ON, BC Post-election access reportingCA, ON Pre-election access consultationON (2010) Access/inclusion policy lensON (2011) Disability advisory committeeON (2011) 6

7 R ECOMMENDATIONS 1. Review all electoral policies, procedures and administrative practices in terms of the principles, articles and obligations in the UN Convention on the Rights for Persons with Disabilities. 2. Introduce a suite of training modules that reflect the responsibilities of the array of election officers: returning officers and deputy returning officers, registration officers, poll supervisors and poll clerks, special ballot coordinator (hospitals), training officers, and information officers. 3. Obtain responsibility under the Canada Elections Act to undertake reports on the level of accessibility of polling stations, the type of accessibility equipment used, the type of alternative technologies deployed, and the availability of reports in accessible format. 4. Review and revise, where needed, website practices to ensure the highest level of accessibility to all citizens, whatever their impairments. 5. Consult with major political parties at the national level on how to ensure, through information guides and other policy tools, accessible candidate meetings. 7

8 R ECOMMENDATIONS 6. Review the assistive voting tools offered in provincial jurisdictions; tools that include audio headphones, tactile buttons, and large keyboards marked with Braille, paddles and sip and puff devices. 7. Further test e-voting in a federal by-election to determine the accessibility and feasibility of such methods for all electors, with a special view as to how it may address barriers that disabled electors experience. 8. Strengthen relationships with national organizations representing persons with disabilities through a disability advisory committee to Elections Canada. 9. Better inform administrators and staff of health care and residential facilities of their role in supporting the rights of electors with disabilities in their care. Also, these initiatives should be directed at family members and significant others in the lives of residents in nursing homes and similar care facilities. 10. Conduct voter education and information programs for youth with disabilities among other possible groups of electors with disabilities. 8

9 T HANK YOU Comments Questions Michael J. Prince Lansdowne Professor of Social Policy Faculty of Human and Social Development University of Victoria 9


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