Some progress has been recorded in terms of road accessibility, as new ramps have been built, in an appropriate and qualitative manner, and contrast colours have been added in the polling station halls and corridors. These changes were implemented mainly in the urban area. However, the lack of both hygiene conditions and accessibility of sanitary facilities is the most pressing challenge.
The assessment conducted on 15 March involved people using a wheelchair. Larisa Prochina lives in Hincesti Municipality and, on the Elections Day, enjoyed the optimisations carried out in the education institutions located in her town. “It is important that people with disabilities, including those who use wheelchairs, are able to participate in elections. We want our view on how to make our communities better to be conveyed right at the polling station, and not from home,” notes Larisa.
Victor Koroli, Executive Director of INFONET Alliance, mentions: “Over the last two years, Hincesti local and district authorities demonstrated openness and understanding of the accessibility topic. Therefore, it was indeed important to assess the current situation and make a comparison, as well as to appreciate the actions taken locally and formulate recommendations for the way forward.”
Vladimir Sarban, Deputy Chairperson of Central Electoral Commission, notes: “The Central Electoral Commission will continue the dialogue and joint endeavours with local authorities so as this municipality becomes an example of equal access for all to polling stations. The same applies to all public institutions throughout the country in the context of presidential elections to be held in autumn 2020.”
“UNDP Moldova aims to support full respect for human rights. In this case, it is not just a question of freely expressed voting rights, it is also about the right to education, culture, healthcare for all people with disabilities who are all equal as Moldovan citizens,” said Eva Bounegru, Project Manager at UNDP Moldova.
More than half of the public buildings assessed are education institutions, which usually host the polling stations.
In 2019 a similar study covered 612 polling stations located in the municipalities of Chisinau, Balti, Hincesti, Causeni, Edinet and Gagauzia region, covering 30% of the total number of polling stations opened in February 2019 to conduct parliamentary elections.
The study “Equal access for all to polling stations” has been developed in the framework of the “Enhancing democracy in Moldova through inclusive and transparent elections” project, implemented by UNDP Moldova in partnership with the Central Electoral Commission and funded by the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), the British Embassy in Chisinau through the Good Governance Fund and the Embassy of Netherlands through the Matra Program.
Contact for media: Eva Bounegru, Project Manager, UNDP Moldova, telephone 068176611, firstname.lastname@example.org