The Maldives elections body will allow voters with disabilities to choose their own helpers for polling day, its second U-turn and major misstep in four days. Updated electoral regulations published Sunday say voters who require assistance will be allowed to choose a helper of their choice. The helper can assist the voter with the permission of the chief electoral official at the ballot centre. The Elections Commission initially said only electoral officials would help voters who were unable to tick the ballot paper on their own. The original announcement was met with anger from political parties and a threat of legal action by a former attorney general.
“This is a huge concern for us,” former disability ambassador Ahmed Hishan told the Maldives Independent prior to Sunday’s U-turn. “The EC is showing them a person and telling them to trust a complete stranger. Also, these election officials are not even trained to deal with people with disabilities.
“In previous elections there were no complaints over the voting rights of the disabled. That means people were content with how it was. Our authorities and institutions still lack awareness on matters related to special needs,” he said.