During the second round of the general local elections, which was held on November 3, the right to vote of people with mental disabilities was not fully ensured. There was noted the absence of identity documents in the case of some beneficiaries of medical or residential institutions. Also, the spaces for voting were inaccessible to people with locomotor deficiencies, and in some cases the secrecy of the vote was not assured. These are the preliminary findings regarding the right to vote of persons with disabilities in the second round of the general local elections, presented by the Institute for Human Rights of Moldova (IDOM).
At an IPN press conference, Radu Bobeică, an IDOM lawyer, said that in the second round of elections, IDOM monitored how the right to vote was ensured in four institutions. These are the Placement Center for people with disabilities in Brânzeni, Edineț district, Temporary placement center in Bădiceni, Soroca district, Placement center for girls in Hâncești and the psychiatric hospital in Codru town. “One can be deprived of the voting right only by a court of law. According to the general rule, the psycho-neurological institutions had to include on voter rolls all the persons who were residents on the day of the vote”, said Radu Bobeică.
At the Psychiatric Hospital in the town of Codru, on the day of voting, over 600 people were admitted. Only 24 of the 27 included on the electoral rolls voted. "It is assumed that some of them were allowed to go home to vote or some did not want to vote, but this is a very, very low rate of about 4%. At the same time, our observers found several irregularities in the voting process”, declared Radu Bobeică. It concerns the lack of informative materials about the electoral process, as well as the fact that some beneficiaries were not familiar with the steps to be taken in the voting procedure.
Alexandru Cebanaș, consultant of the Monitoring and Reporting Program, said that in the center of Bădiceni, out of a total of 384 people, in the second round 54 voters voted, compared to 74 who voted in the first round. A drawback found in Bădiceni was that the mobile ballot box was placed on the second floor, despite the recommendations. It was placed in an employee's office and this fact can be interpreted as an impediment in the case of people who are reluctant to enter that room. As far as accessibility is concerned, not all the necessary conditions were created, by the fact that the ballot box was set at a very low level, and to apply the stamp, some voters practically went down on their knees.
In the center of Bădiceni, around 55 people did not have identity papers and in this sense a certain restriction on exercising the right to vote can be mentioned. “This is a major problem for every placement center, because in each center there are unidentified people in general, who did not have and do not have identity papers. In this respect, we cannot talk about the possibility of these people to exercise their voting right. All the more so as this problem existed until the elections and, in our opinion, could be eliminated”, noted Alexandru Cebanaș.
Monitoring the observance of electoral rights in psychiatric hospitals and temporary placement centers for persons with disabilities in the general local elections on October 20, as well as in the second round of the elections on November 3, was carried out with the financial support of the East Europe Foundation and Swedish government resources.