Equity at the Ballot Box for Persons with Disabilities in Guatemala

With the support of CBM, the OPD consortium signed a memorandum of understanding to produce a guide for the inclusion of persons with disabilities in the electoral process in Guatemala.

A project awarded the CBM Community Based Inclusive Development (CBID) Innovation Fund is championing the inclusion of persons with disabilities in the electoral process in Guatemala. As part of this, the project aims to expand the voting rights of persons with disabilities in the next general elections, scheduled for 25 June.

To this end, the Consortium of the Organisation of Persons with Disabilities (OPD) in Guatemala, one of three winners of the Fund in 2022, have signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the country's electoral authority, the Tribunal Supremo Electoral (TSE), to ensure that persons with disabilities participate fully in the electoral process in Guatemala.

Members of the OPD consortium include the Asociación Nacional de Ciegos de Guatemala ANCG, the Asociación de Sordos de Guatemala ASORGUA and the Asociación Guatemalteca de per-sonas con Discapacidad Manuel Tot AGPD. The consortium is also a member of RIADIS, the Guatemalan chapter of the Latin American Network of Organisations of Persons with Disabilities and their Families.

"We are thrilled that the OPD consortium leading this project has achieved this important milestone. We selected the project for the CBID Innovation Fund because it is timely and important in the run-up to the Guatemalan elections. It will also help strengthen OPD networks in the country, making it easier for them to apply for funds and implement projects in the future," said Karen Heinicke-Motsch, CBM’s Senior Global CBID Advisor.

 The OPD consortium will develop a guide and train electoral officials who will conduct the 2023 general elections.

CBM/argum/Einberger

The two parties have also agreed to:

  • improve the accessibility of polling stations to enable persons with disabilities to cast their votes.
  • Introduce tools that guarantee the privacy and secrecy of the ballot.
  • Produce information materials in appropriate media and formats to raise awareness of the electoral process among persons with disabilities.

Juliana Turqui, CBM's Central America Representative, was present at the signing of the agreement as an external observer. She said, "I am impressed by the willingness of the Magistrate of the Supreme Electoral Tribunal to improve the conditions that allow persons with disabilities to fully participate in Guatemala's civic life and incorporate and effect the election guide in the general election process."

According to the 2018 census data, the prevalence of disability in Guatemala is 10.38 per cent or approximately 1.6 million people. Of this number, at least 70% are of voting age.

Persons with disabilities are excluded from the voting process - and from many other spheres of society - due to physical, social, communication and information barriers.

This project, which was awarded the CBID Innovation Fund in 2022, aims to change that.

The agreement includes the organisation of training for staff and groups of volunteers involved in the electoral process, as well as for different groups of persons with disabilities. In addition, the agreement includes a guide to action, a template to ensure privacy in voting, and adjustments to polling station locations to make them accessible.

The Innovation Fund

The CBID Innovation Fund celebrates the ingenuity of CBM’s partners and the power of community, by supporting creative projects that have a practical impact on the lives of persons with disabilities.

All the winning partners receive funding to turn their innovative idea into a project. They also participate in webinars and receive ideas and best practice documents from CBM. They have a space to share their ideas with their peers.