On March 15 of this year under the chairmanship of member of the Central Election Commission Anastasia Schegortsova a meeting of the Working group on ensuring the electoral rights of persons with disabilities under the CEC of the Republic of Kazakhstan was held.
The meeting was attended by members of the Working Group, the territorial election commissions, supervising the issues of electoral rights of persons with disabilities, representatives of local executive bodies, the Ombudsman's Office, political parties, and observers of the OSCE and the CIS ODIHR Missions.
At the meeting of the Working Group they have discussed the issues on providing the information to the voters with special needs about the preparation for the elections of the deputies of the Majilis of the Parliament and Maslikhats of the Republic of Kazakhstan on March 19, 2023, as well as the measures taken to ensure their voting conditions at the polling stations, including the production of stencils with the Braille alphabet.
Anastasia Shegortsova, a member of CEC, opening the meeting, said that on one of the first meetings of CEC after the elections, in order to organize the upcoming extraordinary elections of deputies of Mazhilis of the Parliament and Maslikhats of the Republic of Kazakhstan in high quality, the political parties and other public associations were recommended to provide opportunities for citizens with disabilities to nominate candidates for deputies of Maslikhats and for election campaigning.
Representatives of all seven political parties of the Republic of Kazakhstan were informed about the measures taken to implement the recommendations of the CEC.
Thus, Marat Sydykov, a representative of the Central Office of AMANAT, noted that during the election campaign, the election headquarters of AMANAT paid special attention to persons with disabilities (visually impaired, persons with visual impairment) for their opportunity to be familiarized with the campaign materials of the party.
Also, a special relief tactile font (Braille) was used in the production of booklets, and an informative website was developed to post information about the party's election program, adapted to the needs of the visually impaired.
The candidates to deputies to maslikhats of the Republic at the time of nomination from AMANAT party were over 2% or 56 people.
Abay Tabysbaev, the representative of the Central Office of Democratic Party of Kazakhstan Aq Jol, informed that the Democratic Party of Kazakhstan Aq Jol, in order to meet the requirements of election laws, has nominated 13 candidates for the party lists of oblast maslikhats from among persons with disabilities.
In order to organize meetings with voters, candidates with mobility difficulties are provided with special vehicles and individual assistants.
Kuanysh Seytzhanov, secretary of the Auyl party, noted that during the election campaign in the regions there were conducted campaign events with people of inclusive society, such as the event of national importance "Inclusive society worthy attention", podcast on "The role of inclusion in society", meetings with a number of public associations of disabled people, with mothers of many children and their families with children of inclusive society, with the voters with disabilities.
Also, in other regions, branches of the party have planned activities on meeting and campaigning by candidates of different maslikhats from the Auyl party and members, activists of election headquarters.
In the framework of campaign, 6 candidates - people with disabilities were nominated from the party to Maslikhats of all levels.
A member of the political council of the People's Party of Kazakhstan Islam Sunkar said that all campaign activities are carried out under the conditions for persons with disabilities, who are direct participants of the events of the party. At the early elections to Maslikhats of Kazakhstan appointed for March 19, 2023, 5 persons with disabilities have been nominated to Maslikhats of various levels - in Zhambyl, Pavlodar, Abay, Ulytau regions and Almaty city.
Yermek Rakhimov, Deputy Head of the Republican election headquarters of the Green Party of Kazakhstan Baitak reported that active campaigning work with the participation of persons with disabilities is conducted in Almaty and Zhambyl regions.
Talgat Omarov, head of the Central Office of the Nationwide Social Democratic Party reported that appropriate work is carried out. A candidate with disabilities is nominated from NSDP to deputies of Almaty Maslikhat.
Nurlan Jamenkov, a representative of the Republica party, informed that a person with a visual disability, who actively conducts election campaigning in Almaty, implementing the party's election program, in terms of building an inclusive society - a society in which everyone has equal opportunities, has been nominated as a candidate for the Maslikhat of Almaty.
The possibility of conducting election campaigning, taking into account the conditions for persons with disabilities, is provided by the Republica party at a sufficiently high level, which allows it to reach a large number of voters.
Previously, in election campaigns in the Republic of Kazakhstan, there was no practice of producing campaign materials of candidates taking into account the needs of voters with disabilities. Therefore, the members of the Working Group noted a certain improvement in this direction.
Further, during the meeting, a number of local executive bodies reported on the measures taken to ensure special conditions at polling stations for voters with disabilities, assistance to election commissions in ensuring conditions for voters with disabilities to vote.
In addition, the head of the Department for the Protection of Human Rights of the National Center for Human Rights – Zhanar Bigalieva informed the participants of the meeting about the results of checking the accessibility of polling stations for persons with disabilities.
Thus, in the run-up to the elections, the Human Rights Commissioners were instructed by their regional representatives to monitor all polling stations for compliance with legislation in this area, thereby ensuring access of persons with disabilities to the right to vote.
From the preliminary information of the representatives of the Commissioner, it follows that as of March 14 this year, in general, the polling stations located in the local self-government and remand center are ready and brought into line with the recommendations on ensuring the electoral rights of citizens with disabilities.
Representatives of the Commissioner continue monitoring the observance of the rights of persons with disabilities, including their access to the right to vote.
Also, a separate issue was considered the preparation of a stencil using Braille, which was first made during the presidential elections of 2022. And was positively evaluated by both experts and voters with visual disabilities.
Thus, as part of the current campaign, the CEC of the Republic of Kazakhstan has prepared a stencil using Braille for voting on the elections of deputies of the Majilis of the Parliament of the Republic of Kazakhstan, elected on party lists.
The examination was carried out by two organizations: Kazakh Society of the Blind NGO, Yerkindik Kanaty NGO.
To date, according to the information of the territorial election commissions, stencils and audio versions have been made for the ballots for the elections of deputies of the Mazhilis of the Parliament elected in single-mandate territorial electoral districts, as well as for the elections of deputies of maslikhats of all levels, after listening to which you can fill out the ballots yourself.
On March 3-4, 2023, the CEC of the Republic of Kazakhstan jointly with the Shyrak Association of Women with Disabilities NGO and the OSCE Program Office in Astana held a two-day online training. More than 100 people took part in the training.
The purpose of the online training was to strengthen the potential of the TEC and MISD in the field of electoral rights and the needs of people with disabilities to ensure the participation of citizens with disabilities at all stages of the electoral process.
During the training, the issues of organizing the accessibility of the polling station, as well as practical exercises, methodological recommendations for TEC and PEC "Relational barriers: ethics and terminology in relation to people with disabilities" were considered.
A memo on ensuring the accessibility of polling stations was also prepared. The expert recommendations of the members of the Working Group - representatives of the Shyrak Association of Women with Disabilities NGO and the Yerkindik Kanaty NGO were taken into account in the preparation.
At the end of the meeting, Anastasia Shchegortsova noted that within the framework of the election campaign, it is necessary to actively participate in ensuring the electoral rights of persons with disabilities of all interested parties: political parties and other public associations, candidates, state bodies, members of election commissions.