Special needs voters trained in casting ballots

| 16/05/2017
CNS Local Life

Sunrise client learning how to vote

(CNS Local Life): For the first time ever, a group of special needs voters have received training in how to cast their votes in the General Elections set for Wednesday, 24 May 2017. An Elections Office team of six, led by veteran trainer, Rupert McCoy, showed 14 out of 21 registered voters with disabilities at the Sunrise Adult Training Centre (SATC) what to do at the polls.

At the 4 May session, with four teachers from the centre in attendance, the trainees learned how to participate in the voting process and cast their ballots.

“Training focused specifically on the step-by-step process of casting one’s vote,” said SATC vocational programme coordinator Suzzette Stewart. Clients were given the opportunity to practise answering questions regarding their names, addresses and occupations, as well as casting their votes, and taking an oath if they request assistance to cast their vote.

They also received tips for any exceptional circumstances and some clients applied for mobile voting.

“Through our life skills class, the clients will continue to practise these and other skills that will assist them on Election Day,” Stewart added. “Occupational therapy will work with clients’ fine motor skills to ensure they are able to ‘make their mark’ on the ballot paper properly.”

In addition, as part of continued preparation for Election Day, SATC will hold its own mock elections on Friday, 19 May. Clients themselves will participate by campaigning to be elected “Director for a Day”. Programming, and the potential for special events and treats, will be decided by the director-elect on 23 May, one day prior to the actual General Elections.

“We hope that this centre-wide activity will prove to be memorable and enjoyable final preparations for clients heading to cast their ballots the next day,” centre director Kimberly Voaden said.

“We have extended the invitation to Mr McCoy and the rest of the Elections Office training team to attend as ‘independent observers’ to ensure that all polling procedures are carried out correctly and with integrity,” Stewart added.

She thanked McCoy and the Elections Office team for the training. “We fully appreciate their hectic schedule; nonetheless they were able to accommodate us for which we are very grateful,” Stewart said. “The training was exceptionally good and so important for the clients to have this valuable practical experience.”

In his introductory remarks, McCoy reiterated that in his 49 years of experience with the Elections Office, this was the first time that he had conducted training with persons with disabilities. “In my long tenure with the Elections Office, I can honestly say this has been the most enjoyable experience,” he said. “After seeing how enthusiastically and how well the trainees responded to the training, I am positive they will be able to do a fine job of casting their ballots on Election Day. I am equally confident that the general public will also do a great job of voting on that day.”

Supervisor of Elections Wesley Howell added, “I am truly delighted that the SATC reached out to us and we were honoured to accommodate their request for empowering their registered voter clients so that they can cast their ballots confidently and perhaps even enjoy the process.

“While this is the first time we have provided such training, it certainly won’t be the last.”

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Category: Training

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