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150 persons with disability register to vote

Close to 150 people living with disability have registered to vote in the upcoming 2021 General Election, says Electoral Commissioner, Faimalomatumua Mathew Lemisio.

The Commissioner, in response to queries from the Samoa Observer, said that the number of persons living with disability already registered is close to 150 

He added that about 350 of them are eligible to register to vote in the next general election.

"We have received from N.O.L.A [Nuanua o le Alofa] a list of these citizens in Savaii following their house visit project that needs to be registered. We will register them when we move our door-to-door registration work to Savai’i,” he said. 

“We’ll get the list of those with disabilities here in Upolu who haven’t registered from N.O.L.A then we’ll also proceed to deliver them this service.”

NOLA General Manager, Mataafa Utumapu, told Samoa Samoa that the number of persons living with disability who have registered to vote is due to their ongoing partnership with the Office of the Electoral Commission [O.E.C.] and is something to be proud of.

"We have signed an agreement through Samoa Blind Persons Association where it allows persons who are blind and visually impaired to access information in braille," she said.

"The work with O.E.C is also in line with our mandate as the national advocacy organisation of persons with disabilities to not only say that we have the right to vote but also to educate them on how to make things accessible for us.

“To realise that right as stipulated under the International Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities Article 30 which has been ratified by the Government of Samoa in 2016."

Mataafa said they continue to register those who are eligible to vote, and to ensure that voter education is accessible and responsive to the needs of persons with disabilities.

"Our database continues to increase so at the moment we are close to 900 registered members. So with that 900, 50 per cent are eligible to vote with approximately 30 to 40 per cent of that 50 per cent were not registered, so we have done huge referrals to the O.E.C that is following our COVID-19 response work in Savaii where we identified approximately 500 persons with disabilities," she added.

"We continue to thank the O.E.C and its partners for allowing us to have this partnership agreement formalised which continues to serve as the platform for our work towards an inclusive and barrier-free society for persons with disabilities.”

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