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28.10.2004 Politics

USAID gives $34,000 to aid the blind to vote

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Accra, Oct. 28, GNA - The United States Agency for International Development (USAID) announced on Thursday that it had granted 34,000 dollars (306 billion cedis) to the Ghana Association of the Blind (GAB) in support of the Association's efforts to enable the visually impaired persons to vote in secret in the December elections.

A statement from the US Embassy in Accra said the grant, which supplements the assistance to the Association by other donors, would assist in the training of the visually impaired to use the ballot guides in identifying candidates of their choice.

"This assistance will enable thousands of registered, visually impaired persons in Ghana to fully participate in the December 2004 Parliamentary and Presidential elections."

The statement said the ballot guide has "dots and windows" in which the number of dots blocked on the guide can help the visually impaired to detect the numerical placement of the candidate and to make a thumbprint in the appropriate window.

Poll workers of the Electoral Commission (EC) would also be trained in the use of the ballot guide and sensitised about where to place polling stations so that they are accessible to the visually impaired. The statement said in 2002, a ballot guide for the visually impaired was developed and used with a great success in a limited number of polling stations during the District Assembly elections.

"The use of the ballot guide in the December elections will make Ghana the first African nation to use such a system nationwide.

"It will help other African nations to develop a similar electoral access to increase voting rights and voter participation for citizens with disabilities."

The US Government has given 450,000 dollars to the Centre for Democratic Development (CDD-Ghana) and Electoral Commission for various programmes towards Election 2004.

CDD-Ghana is using the money to support civil society pre-election monitoring and poll worker training as well as parliamentary candidate debates while the EC is to use the money for the compilation of a credible and reliable register.

USAID has also given 50,000 dollars to support women's participation in the elections.

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