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Cambodian Observers: Indonesian Election Good, But Could be Better

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AGENDA team interviews a voter in Bangka Belitung election

By: Riri Rafiani, PPUA Penca

Three Cambodian observers joined AGENDA’s fourth election monitoring in Bangka Belitung, February 23, 2012. Ky Sophan, Huy Khy, and Pheng Pharozin from Cambodian Disabled Person’s Organisation (CDPO) flew from their country to learn about the election monitoring process. Prior to the activity, they received a briefing about how to conduct the monitoring and to fill out the checklist. On the D-day, they joined three separate groups and set out to different locations.

Afterward, the three Cambodian observers shared their findings with other AGENDA volunteers at the post-monitoring discussion held in Bangka Belitung. They said that in general they found the state of accessibility in Indonesia's election to be similar to that in Cambodia. “I think we share some similar issues with our friends here,” said Ky Sophan, referring to serious problems still faced by persons with disabilities, including difficulty in getting to polling stations as well as lack of facilities and support from the election officers. The situation has made persons with disabilities, especially those with mobility impairment, reluctant to go to polling station.

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Volunteer Training Sheds Light on Disability Issues in Bangka Belitung

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By Riri Rafiani, PPUA Penca

On February 21-22, 2012 AGENDA held its fourth training of volunteers to help with the monitoring of regional election in Bangka Belitung. As in the previous three trainings, 30 volunteers were recruited; half of them were persons with disability. They were recruited through People’s Voter Education Network in the area. Training sessions included not only techniques of election monitoring, but also disability issues, such as how to interact with persons with disabilities, what challenges they face in their day-to-day life, and the current situation of their political rights in Indonesia.

Some volunteers found this training helpful particularly because of the disability issues presented. “I’m interested because this training allows us to look into the needs of disabled persons,” said Effendi, a student of School of Islamic Studies in Pangkalpinang.

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I used to think that disabled persons do not have political rights.”

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Head of Election Monitoring Agency Admits to Poor Election Accessibility

image Head of Election Monitoring Agency Admits to Poor Election AccessibilityBy: Riri Rafiani, PPUA Penca

Head of Indonesian Election Monitoring Agency (Bawaslu) Bambang Eko Widodo admitted that election process in the country has not been completely disabled people-friendly. He expressed this statement at an audience with AGENDA team on ugust 11, 2011 at Bawaslu office.

To be honest, our monitoring of election with regards to voters with disability is incomplete,” he said. “[Efforts to facilitate them] have been limited to the template [to aid the visually impaired to vote] when there are so many other things we could do,” he added.

Election process in Indonesia, especially when it comes to voters with disability, still requires special attention. Inadequate consideration has been given to issues such as site selection for polling stations, rendering them difficult to access by wheelchair users and the elderly.

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AGENDA: An Eye-opener Through The Blindfold

image AGENDA: An Eye-opener Through The BlindfoldBy: Riri Rafiani, PPUA Penca

Two blindfolded people walked uncertainly toward a voting booth: one swinging a cane and the other assisted by an official. Another blindfolded person just sat quietly as if unsure of what to do. Once at the voting booth, the two blindfolded people had to rack their brain just to figure out how to mark their vote on the ballot paper they could not see. Later, a voter on a wheelchair was met with similar difficulties. The table in the voting booth was too tall, the ballot paper too wide, the booth too narrow, making it difficult for them to do what should have been the simple task of casting their vote in an election.

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The Long Winding Road Of Political Participation For Persons With Disabilities In ASEAN

image The Long Winding Road Of Political Participation For The Disabled In AseanBy: Riri Rafiani, PPUA Penca

Twenty-four participants from a number of organizations that concerned themselves with election and disability issues gathered at Hotel Millenium, Jakarta, on Monday, August 15, 2011, for a workshop titled Study of Participation of Persons with Disabilities in Elections in South-east Asia. Among the participants were representatives of Indonesian Association for the Welfare of the Deaf (GERKATIN), INDEPTH Indonesia, Indonesian Association of Women With Disabilities (HWPCI), Indonesian Paraplegic Association (PERPARI), Centre for Electoral Reform (CETRO), Forum Asia, Indonesian Blind Union (PERTUNI), and ASEAN Commission on the Promotion and Protection of Women and Children's Rights (ACWC). They were invited to share their views on election issues for people with disabilities.

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Rough Terrainspose Obstacle To Disabled Voters In South Tangerang

image Rough Terrainspose Obstacle To Disabled Voters In South TangerangBy: Riri Rafiani, PPUA Penca

On October 22, 2011 a regional election for the post of governor was held in Banten Province, including in the South Tangerang regency. This was the second election in the relatively new province since its establishment in 2000. The first was held in 2006.

The day also marked AGENDA’s third election monitoring activity, following similar projects in Yogyakarta and Mamuju. Thirty polling stations in four sub-districts in South Tangerang were selected and 41 respondents (disabled voters) were interviewed.

The monitoring revealed similar findings tothose in Mamuju: accessibility was still an issue. Some polling stations were located in buildings with flights of stairs and the voting booths were constructed without due consideration to wheelchair users. The topology of the area and road condition that does not allow easy passage further complicated the matter. Slopes and rough, narrow trails characterize the region, especially in the outskirts.

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Accessibility Still An Issue In Mamuju

image Accessibility Still An Issue In MamujuBy: Riri Rafiani, PPUA Penca

For their second electoral monitoring, the AGENDA team set out to Mamuju, the capital city of West Sulawesi Province. This region saw its second provincial election on asunny day on October 10, 2011.

Similar methods used in the Yogyakarta election monitoring were adopted in Mamuju. Over 30 polling stations in three sub-districts from downtown Mamuju to the city suburbs were selected. Thirty volunteers consisting of disabled and non-disabled persons were recruited to help AGENDA with this activity.Thirty-six respondents (voters with disability) were interviewed for their opinion.

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