E-Democracy and Accessibility: Challenges in the Ecuadorian presidential elections of 2021 in the midst of the Covid-19 pandemic

Open Access
Conference Proceedings
Authors: Hugo Arias-FloresSandra Sanchez-GordonTania Calle-Jimenez

Abstract: People living with some type of disability continue to encounter barriers that prevent them from participating in society on equal terms and their rights continue to be violated. Among these rights, the full enjoyment of communication in an independent and accessible manner, using information and communication technologies, is a commitment acquired by the signatory countries of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. Inclusive and equitable access to full participation in democratic processes is fundamental. Elections to designate constitutional president and vice president of the Republic of Ecuador for the period 2021-2025 were held on February 7, 2021. Some 13 million citizens were called to vote, including more than 425,000 citizens with disabilities. In Ecuador, voting is compulsory for citizens between 18 and 65 years of age, and the voting document is requisite for access to services in government offices. Ecuador was the sixth country in Latin America to call its citizens to the polls amid the pandemic. This unprecedented situation forced the National Electoral Council to change the traditional voting process, including a larger number of polling stations and ordering voters to go to the polls unaccompanied to avoid crowds and minimize contagion. In this context, the National Electoral Council made available to citizens a website that allowed, among other features, to consult the voting location and follow the election results in real-time. The objective of this study was to identify accessibility barriers in these web pages for users using assistive technology. The methodology employed for the analysis was experiential introspection complemented with the use of two automatic evaluation tools based on the W3C Web Content Accessibility Guidelines and the Usability.gov guidelines. Accessibility and usability problems were found on the voting location consultation page. Additionally, the voting results page presented very serious accessibility problems to the extent that prevented blind users from obtaining such information.

Keywords: democratic processes, accessibility, Persons with Disabilities

DOI: 10.54941/ahfe1001716

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