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Gordon's D-Zone Arcive (2006-2014)

Monday, February 04, 2008

THE BLIND HAND OF JUSTICE?


It’s that time again. Malta will be soon facing another season of political debate, or rather of heated arguments on local TV and radio. I’m rather forced to talk about this here since I need to get it out of my system. No, I won’t be discussing my political views here. Not that I’m not tempted to do so. However, there’s an issue that bothers me every time an election comes up.


Well, back in 2003, I was legally blind. Indeed, I couldn’t see at all. So, I had to vote like any other blind person would. In front of what is called an 'electoral commission’. Practically, this meant that six or seven people representing the political parties contesting (then 3, now 4 parties) knew how I voted that day. And, believe me, it’s not a comforting experience to know that other people may use this against you in the future. Besides that, why should someone else know who I believe should lead the country – when not even my closest friends would?


Even if this time will be my first vote as a sighted person (in one eye), I cannot help looking back at the time when I was denied this right. The right to a secret vote that is. Unfortunately, attempts made by organizations of blind people in Malta to attain this right to secrecy through the use of alternative means of voting have failed. Indeed, the court denied this right to secret voting deeming it a constitutional issue and thus requiring the approval by two-thirds of the parliament to pass.


Obviously, I disagree with this ruling as it denies Maltese blind citizens from exerting their right to express their political choices in secret. However, I wasn’t comfortable with the way this legal complaint was filed. Indeed, secret voting is not – strictly speaking – an issue that only concerns blind people. What about people with severe physical impairments who cannot vote because of the way voting has been designed? Or those people who because they have been judged as intellectually disabled or of having a mental health condition are barred from the voting system?


I am not in a position to judge anyone here. Yet, I think that given that voting is perhaps the only time when a citizen can directly have a say in the democratic process, I think that barring certain disabled people from the voting process emphasizes feelings of exclusion and dependence. Indeed, justice is not blind. If it were, it would start by safeguarding its own right to vote!

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