The Blind Not Allowed To Vote In 201025 Nov 2010
There was a story reported on an Australian news website back in September, about a man who lives in South Australia who is vision impaired and unhappy with his state’s current voting system for people living with a disability.
David Rankin’s claim that the State Electoral Commission was discriminating against him and other vision impaired voters, was dismissed by the Equal Opportunities Tribunal. The Commission stated that any changes to assist the blind and vision impaired at polling booths would be too costly and that there was no discrimination being carried out by them.
Mr Rankin’s complaint is certainly justified if you ask me. Because of our compulsory voting system and their non-willingness to alter the polling booths, people with vision impairments aren’t able to vote secretly as non-visually impaired people would, as they need assistance to fill out their forms.
The Equal Opportunities Tribunal declared that Mr Rankin’s dispute was attacking a policy rather than a personal case of discrimination and that is why there was no instance of discrimination from the State Electoral Commission against Mr Rankin recorded.
In other states in Australia and other countries around the world, there have been modifications done to polling booths so those with vision impairments can vote secretly and in private. This is definitely something that shouldn’t even be getting discussed in the year 2010. This should be a standard practice at all polling booths, especially in Australia, where we have no choice about voting.
NSW is one step closer to making the vision impaired private voting system a reality though, with a new legislation being introduced into the NSW parliament yesterday, and if passed, it will mean the implementation of a secure phone and internet voting system for NSW State Government Elections.
Currently there are around 100,000 residents in NSW, living with some sort of vision impairment, and if this new legislation is passed, it will give back the independence to many vision impaired Australians. Ms Kristina Keneally, the NSW premier, says that this system could also eventually be of use to people with other disabilities, people who live in rural areas or those living overseas.
Ms Keneally said the Federal election in August this year, saw Australia to become the first country in the world, to implement telephone voting for those who are blind or visually impaired. Ms Keneally is hoping to see the changes taking place by the 2011 State election. Let’s hope that this promise gets followed through to the end. To view Mr Rankin’s story, click here - http://www.adelaidenow.com.au/news/south-australia/disabled-should-have-right-to-secret-vote/story-e6frea83-1225916024422