1. THE RIGHT TO VOTE AND BE ELECTED.
- Do visually impaired (hereafter VI) people suffer any restrictions to their rights to vote and/or to be elected? If yes, give details.
Yes, at the moment they only have the option of being assisted by another person
- During election campaigns what measures are taken to ensure that VI people are ensured full autonomy concerning the availability of information distributed by candidates, access to pre-electoral meetings, access to different campaign media?
Actually, no specific measure is taken to ensure that VI people of Albania enjoy full autonomy and have accessible information distributed by candidates during their campaings. No material is ever printed in Braille by any political party.
Are special measures put in place to ensure that polling stations are accessible to VI people?
See question one, the current measure are
Article 108 - Voters who cannot vote themselves
- A voter who, for physical reasons, is unable to perform the voting procedures him/herself may request the assistance of a family member or another voter who is on the voter list for that polling unit. Both voters shall be present at the voting centre when this procedure is used.
- A person may assist only one voter who cannot vote him/herself.
- Before marking the ballot paper, a person who assists another voter makes a statement in the VCC Meeting Records Book that he/she will vote as instructed, will not influence the voter's decision, will not make the vote public and has not voted on behalf of any other voter.
- Members of the election commissions and the secretary may not help any voter who is unable to vote him/herself.
- The mark on the ballot paper shall necessarily be made inside the voting booth.
- Within the period of the revision of voter lists, voters specified in point 1 of this article have the right to request the mayor of the local government unit that prepares the voter list for the respective voting centre to register them as voters who cannot vote themselves. The request for registration is accompanied by the official documentation that proves the type and category of disability. The registration as a voter who cannot vote him/herself is carried out to facilitate the voting process for these voters.
- In any case, when there are voters registered according to point 6 of this article who have difficulties accessing the voting centre premises, the voting centres shall be designated and organized in such a manner as to guarantee free access for this category of voters. If this is impossible, in compliance with the instructions of the CEC and at CEC expense, the mayors of the local government units appoint support personnel or equipment to guarantee free access.
- In case of blind voters, the mayor of the local government unit notifies the CEC on the number of blind voters and their voting centres. The CEC, in accordance with the procedures and deadlines for the distribution of the electoral materials, supplies the commissions of these voting centres with special voting devices that allow the voters to read or understand the ballot paper and to vote independently. A blind voter is informed by the VCC of the manner of voting with special voting devices and is supplied with them upon his/her request. Otherwise, the voter shall vote in accordance with points 1 and 3 of this article.
- Within polling stations, what measures are taken to ensure that VI people can exercise their rights in an autonomous and confidential manner?
In the case of proportional elections (by lists of candidates), what measures are taken to ensure that VI people can exercise their rights in an autonomous and confidential manner?
Are their measures in place to assist VI people in the polling booths and when casting their vote in the urns?
see above and also the following proposal: in 2004, the Albanian Blind Association drafted and presented to the Central Commission of Elections a draft of template/mask for secret ballot. This template, proposed by the Albanian Blind Association, is drafted properly at the size and the form of the ballot paper.
The information and the form of the ballot, as it is determined by the Central Election Commission in Albania (CEC), is written down at the template in Braille writing. Also beside the name of each electoral subject and candidate, on the surface of the template is a space in form of a quadrant of a diameter of 5 mm which will serve to guide blind voters in writing down the ballot in the specific name of the candidate and electoral party. Specifying made above on the ballot, highlight that will be for all the ballot papers to ensure the secrecy of the ballot for the blind citizens.
The usage of the template, an innovation presented by the Association of Blind People of Albania, is of vital importance to enable blind voters to read the ballot sheet independently and guarantee them the right of independent and secret ballot to all voters with visual impairments in Albania.
Recently, an agreement of cooperation was signed by the chair of the Central Electoral Committee the chair of the National Council of Persons with disabilities, according to which CEC undertakes engagement to take all the necessary measures and provide proper conditions to voters with disabilities to exert their right for secret and independent ballot.
- Are voting machines in place in your country? If yes, please detail how these are made accessible to VI people.
No, there are no voting machines in Albania.
2. PARTICIPATION IN NON-GOVERNMENTAL ORGANISATIONS AND ASSOCIATIONS CONCERNED WITH THE PUBLIC AND POLITICAL LIFE OF THE COUNTRY, AND IN THE ACTIVITIES AND ADMINISTRATION OF POLITICAL PARTIES.
- Can VI people in your country participate in an unrestricted manner in political parties, unions, public and political organisations and associations?
Yes, every citizen in Albania, including VI people have the right to be organized and/or to participate in a non-governmental organization, as well as in a political party. This right is guaranteed by the Albanian Constitution. Every citizen enjoy the right to be organized and to take part in any organization which has a legitimate objective and is not in contrary to the legal principles.
- Are their VI people in who have been elected to political, trade-union or associative office in your country?
No, until today no VI person has been elected to a political office.
- Do VI people in your country have unrestricted access to administrative office, including at top-level?
Yes, but in reality there are many objective and subjective barriers.
3. FORMING AND JOINING ORGANISATIONS OF PERSONS WITH DISABILITIES.
- Please give an overview of the number/type of associations or organisations representing VI people in your country.
Yes, it is the Albanian Blind Association which is the only national association established by the VI people themselves and chaired by them. It represents VI People of Albania to third parties and protect their rights and interests.
- What is the role played by these associations in representing VI people?
It is a crucial role as the Albanian Blind Association is the association which has been recognized as the voice of VI people of Albania and it is the consultative party with the state institutions and decision-making bodies.
How are VI people included in associations representing them?
VI People based on their will are enrolled and become members of the association. Periodically the General Assembly is held and they elect the chair of the Local branch of the Association and their representatives at regional level.
As well, the members of the Presidency of the Association are elected. In this way, through open voting procedures and democratic process the VI people as members are included and are the real participants in every action undertaken by the association.