The Superior Electoral Court (TSE) subscribed the Electoral Justice Accessibility Program in the Zero Project, an initiative of the Essl Foundation, a non-profit organization that selects and discloses the most innovative and effective solutions, which were created around the world for persons with disabilities. The program of the Electoral Justice was instituted in 2012, by means of Resolution TSE n. 23, 381. It aims to gradually implement measures in order to remove physical, architectural, communicational and behavioral barriers, always with the objective of promoting the ample and unrestrained access to the electoral process, with security and autonomy, for persons with disability or reduced mobility.
Brazil has around 150 million voters, being that, from this total, more than 940 thousand people have some kind of disability. Currently, a great part of the voting places in the country is accessible to the 400 thousand voters that have already gone to an Electoral Registry and requested their transfer to a special polling station that is apt to attend their needs.
In order to submit the program to the Zero Project, which focus its initiatives in themes that are prioritized by the United Nations (UN) Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, which is the case of accessibility, the TSE president, justice Luiz Fux, created the Workgroup “Zero Project”, by means of Administrative Rule TSE n. 543/2018, which is composed of five people.
To the coordinator of the workgroup, auxiliary judge of the presidency of TSE, Fernando Mello, the Electoral Justice Accessibility Program deserves to be in the Zero Project since it is a prime example of a public policy that aims at social inclusion and the plain exercise of citizenship for persons with disabilities.
In the evaluation of the former justice, Joelson Dias, a collaborator of the workgroup, the initiative allows the advancement and improvement of accessibility measures and policies at each election. He emphasizes that the conclusion of the Electoral Justice Accessibility Program “carefully fulfills the orientations of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities as to the periodical collection of data related to the conditions of life and realization of the rights of persons with disabilities.”
The group is also integrated by the presidency Adviser, Ronaldo Assunção Sousa do Lago (substitute coordinator), chief-adviser of the Advisory for Socioenvironmental Administration, Ganem Amiden Neto, and the adviser of the Advisory for Strategic Management of TSE, Sônia Kill Camps.
The selection of the Electoral Justice program by the Zero Project will allow that the initiative becomes a part of the database that is shared in all the world, from which more than 4 thousand specialists in disabilities are participating, in more than 170 countries, and which counts with 150 innovative and effective practices that aim to create a world without barriers for persons with disabilities.
The selection by Zero Project also guarantees the inclusion of the program in the annual report of the program, which will be disclosed during the Conference, on February 2019, in the head office of the United Nations in Vienna, capital of Austria.
The resolution that instituted the Electoral Justice Accessibility Program determines that the Regional Electoral Courts (TREs) and Voting Districts organize themselves in an action plan that is destined to guaranteeing the plain accessibility of citizens with disabilities to voting places, by removing obstacles inside the polling stations that may prevent or complicate their vote.
The resolution also determines that these citizens access, to the parking lots inside the voting places, should be liberated and that the parking slots which are close to the buildings were the election dispute will occur should be reserved for persons with disabilities.
The measure also predicts the celebration of technical cooperation agreements with public and private entities that are responsible for the administration of the buildings were the polling stations are. Agreements should also be made with entities that represent persons with disabilities, which will assist in the planning and improvement of the accessibility in the Electoral Justice.
Article 4 of the resolution, however, determines that the electronic voting machine, which already has digits in Braille code, will be habilitated with an audio system, in which the TREs will provide earphones in the special polling stations and those in which there is a specific request made by a blind voter or with visual impairment.
Article 5, in turn, establishes that the polling workers should be oriented by the TSE and TREs in order to assist and facilitate the vote of persons with disabilities or reduced mobility. Moreover, partnerships should be established in order to encourage the registry of poll workers and collaborators that have a knowledge in Brazilian Sign Language.
The TSE, after the election, submits a questionnaire to the TREs and analyses the answers and uses all the data in order to improve and perfect the Accessibility Program.