Portugal - ACAPO filed a complaint on access to vote discrimination based on disability

In early 2021, ACAPO alerted the electoral administration to the inaccessibility of the website recensamento.mai.gov.pt, which did not allow visually impaired persons to know, through the same means as any other person without disabilities, where to go to vote. This inaccessibility was caused by the fact that the portal requires, in addition to voter identification data, a human verification code, of the captcha type, which is only contained in an image and is therefore not accessible to screen readers used by visually impaired persons to access the internet.

Despite the warning given at the beginning of the year by ACAPO, and the commitment made at the time by the competent body of the Government, which undertook to overcome this barrier, two weeks before the Local Elections of 26 September, the website was still inaccessible to visually impaired persons and ACAPO had not been consulted on the best solutions or techniques to make the website accessible. This also represents a violation of the European Directive on the Accessibility of the websites of public entities (EU Directive No. 2016/2102), which has already been transposed into Portuguese law.

Thus, on September 12, 2021, ACAPO filed a formal complaint with the competent body to sanction the entity that maintains the census website, for discrimination based on disability. After this quick action by ACAPO, the human verification mechanism, using images, which made the voter registration portal inaccessible to visually impaired persons, was removed. Even so, ACAPO will continue to proceed with the sanctioning of the entity responsible for the website, especially so that other public bodies also take seriously the obligation to contemplate accessibility in their websites and in their mobile applications.