Amendment proposed to allow the visually impaired to vote using plastic templates

An amendment has been proposed to the General Elections Act to allow the visually impaired to use plastic templates to vote in elections.

The amendment was moved by Hinnavaru MP Jeehan Mahmood on behalf of the government. The bill was introduced in Parliament today.

The bill's purpose is to provide opportunities for visually impaired voters to mark their own ballot papers without the assistance of anyone else. According to the bill, if people with visual impairments wish to mark the ballot paper without the assistance of another person, they can mark the ballot paper using a template.

According to the amendment, a ballot template is a transparent plastic device into which the ballot paper can be inserted or temporarily attached to the top of the ballot, designed to assist visually impaired persons in voting. The template should be equal in size to the ballot paper and has a number of tactile features to facilitate the independent marking of a ballot paper by a visually impaired person. The template consists of raised numbering and corresponding braille to assist the voter in identifying the openings on the template that corresponds to the voter preference boxes for the candidates on the ballot paper which lies beneath.

According to the amendment, the Election Commission will have to provide the opportunity for those who wish to vote using the template at each polling station. The amendment states that if a person requests to vote using the template, the ballot paper must be issued to the person after the ballot paper is inserted into the template.