With over 3 million people expected to vote in Sierra Leone’s ongoing general elections scheduled for June 24, 2023, the Electoral Commission for Sierra Leone has outlined guidelines to include visually impaired persons in the process.

The Tactile Ballot Guides (TBG), is a folder into which ballot papers can be inserted, allowing eligible voters who are visually impaired to vote at their polling station of registration in a private and independent manner.

The TBG has several box-shaped openings representing candidates, allowing blind and visually-impaired voters to mark their ballot papers without assistance.

How to correctly vote using the Tactile Ballot Guide

·      Make a mark by pressing the inked finger horizontally on the ballot paper inside the box

·      After marking the paper, wipe the inked finger to remove any excess ink

·      The voter can also use a pen to make a mark

·       If the mark is vertical, the voter’s choice may not be clear, and the ballot paper could be invalidated.

How to handle and use the Tactile Ballot Guide

1.    The Ballot paper Issuer detaches the paper from the booklet and folds it in the prescribed way (First vertically and then horizontally).

2.    The Ballot Paper Issuer unfolds the ballot paper and places it inside the Tactile Ballot Guide to align it with the candidate’s box on the ballot paper.

3.    The Ballot Paper Issuer will only issue the voter one ballot paper at a time for a voter using the Tactile Ballot Guides.

4.    The Ballot Paper Issuer will inform the voter how the ballot paper is positioned so that it is held straight inside the Tactile Ballot Guides by allowing the voter to feel the ballot paper through the opening at the top left-hand side of the Tactile Ballot Guide.

5.    The Ballot Paper Issuer will read the voter in which the names of the candidates and the parties appear on the ballot paper against each opening /box on the right-hand side of the Tactile Ballot Guide.

6.    The Ballot Paper Issuer will demonstrate how to remove the marked ballot paper from the Tactile Ballot guide and how to fold the ballot paper after marking it before casting it into the ballot box.

 By: Gifty Tracy Aminu