Inaccessible voting stations – People with disabilities deprived of their legitimate right to vote require the DGEQ (La Direction Générale des Élections du Québec) to make sure the Charts are respected.
Montreal, August 28, 2012 – During this election week, people with disabilities have faced and will continue to face inaccessible voting stations. Yet the DGEQ (le Directeur général des élections du Québec) prescribes that « All offices of returning officers, revision offices and advance polling stations are accessible to people who have difficulty moving about. » and that « On polling day, polling stations should be easily accessible but it is possible that some of them aren’t. »
However, one such person could not have access to his/her advance polling station in the electoral division of St-Jean in the Montérégie area even if that polling station was clearly identified as being accessible. In at least two other electoral divisions, blind people could not vote in an autonomous and confidential fashion due to lack of a template and another person was refused the reading of a list of candidates when the scrutineer considered that this wasn’t one of his responsibilities. How many more people with disabilities will go through similar situations in this upcoming election? Furthermore, more than sixty voting stations throughout the province of Quebec are identified as being unaccessible to people with disabilities .
The right to vote is one of the most basic rights in a democratic society and it is unnaceptable that many voting stations be inaccessible to people with disabilities and that the required assistance in a polling station be unavailable. Such a situation breaches the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, the Quebec Charter of Human Rights and Freedoms as well as many international agreements. People with disabilities constitute one of the most discriminated against groups in our society. Their participation to political and civic life is still marginal today. It is imperative that the DGEQ makes sure that all voting stations be accessible and inclusive for all people with disabilities.
« We cannot rejoice that “most” of the voting stations be accessible. Moreover, we know that at least two voting stations are identified as being accessible when they are not. We fear that these are not isolated cases », says Mrs. Laurence Parent, vice-president of RAPLIQ.
Diane Bouthillier, director of RAAMM (Montreal Metro Regrouping of blind and amblyopic people), joins the mobilisation of RAPLIQ. « Once again, blind and amblyopic people cannot exercise their right to vote without discrimination and humiliation. » says she.
In 2010, Dr. Hughes, a disabled Canadian who was not able to vote due to the lack of accessibility to his voting station won his case with the Canadian Human Rights Commission. From now on, all voting stations in a federal election must be accessible. We were able to ascertain the effects of that judgement during the last federal election.
The RAPLIQ organization sent a letter to the DGEQ last Thursday. The RAPLIQ organization wishes to know what measures will be taken, next September fourth, for those who will not be able to exercise their right to vote because of architectural obstacles. The RAPLIQ organization also requires a commitment, from the DGEQ, in terms of a complete accessibility during all future general elections.
« We hope not to have to use legal action to force Quebec to respect its most fundamental values and commitments towards one of the most marginalized group of our society », points out Mrs. Parent.
People with disabilities, with families and friends, will hold a demonstration from 11 a.m. At 3450 Davidson in Montréal in the electoral division of Hochelaga-Maisonneuve. This voting station will not be accessible on September fourth.
The RAPLIQ organization aims to eliminate all forms of discrimination done to people with disabilities as well as any obstacle limiting the exercize of their rights and freedoms.
Linda Gauthier, president
Phone : (514) 690-8204
Email : firstname.lastname@example.org
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