March 1, 2002
CONTACT: Jerry Mindes
Guide Developed for Blind Voters in Ghana
of the Ghana Electoral Commission and the Ghana Association of the Blind
have jointly developed a ballot guide which will allow voters who are
blind in Ghana to vote independently and in secret. A prototype of the
ballot guide was designed during a two-day workshop in Accra on February
18 and 19, 2002. Also participating in the workshop were representatives
of the Ghana Federation of the Disabled, the Ghana Federation of the
Deaf, Action on Disability and Development/Ghana, and the International
Foundation for Election Systems.
ballot guide will be tested at a minimum of 500 polling stations during
the district level elections to be convened in June or July of this
for the workshop, for the production of the ballot guide, and for related
voter education, is provided by the International Foundation for Election
Systems, under a grant from the Finland Ministry for Foreign Affairs.
purpose of the ballot guide is to enable blind voters to vote in secret,
and independently. The ballot design recognizes that the vast majority
of Ghanaian citizens who are blind are not Braille-literate. This is
thought to be the first-such effort in the developing world.
of the ballot guide program:
The blind voter casts their vote on the actual ballot;
The ballot is inserted in a folder by an election official.
The folder is the same size as the ballot;
Holes are cut in the folder to correspond precisely to the boxes
on the ballot where the voter places his/her thumb print;
Raised dots are placed on the folder next to each hole, indicating
the vertical position of the hole. For example, one dot is placed next
to the top hole; two dots next to the second hole from the top; and
The top right hand corner of ALL ballots is cut away. By feeling
this cut away piece, and by feeling the perforated edge on the left
side of the ballot, the blind voter can independently determine that
the ballot is correctly inserted in the folder. All ballots are cut
in this manner so as to ensure the secrecy of the ballot cast by the
blind voter. The ballots will be cut during production, and not at the
Written instructions on the use of the ballot will be available
at every polling station, to be read to the voter by the presiding officer.
Voter education for blind voters, and poll worker training will
be conducted on the use of the ballot, prior to election day. The Ghana
Electoral Commission and the Ghana Association of the Blind will jointly
design and implement the voter education campaign.
Three ballot folders will be placed at each polling station participating
in the pilot, in the event that any single folder is spoiled.
Action on Disability and Development/Ghana, will oversee production
of the ballot guides, in cooperation with the Ghana Electoral Agency.
IFES provides technical assistance in the promotion of democracy worldwide
and serves as a clearinghouse for information about democratic development
and elections. Since its inception in 1987, the Foundation has promoted
democratic initiatives in more than 120 countries. For more information,
please visit the IFES web site at www.ifes.org.