EC identifies disabled voters ahead of polls

EC identifies disabled voters ahead of polls

Activists say many have been left out of enrolment exercise

Chennai District Election Office has identified 6,863 persons with disability to facilitate better access to polling booths.

Disability rights activists said many of the persons with disability are set to face challenges pertaining to accessibility during the Lok Sabha elections in the district. T.M.N. Deepak, president of the December 3 Movement, said the Chennai Disabled Welfare Office has issued identity cards to 57,000 persons with disability and many of them are unlikely to be able to access the polling booths.

“If the Election Commission is determined to improve their access to polling booths, they need to include persons with all the 21 types of disability. Most of the data pertain to only seven types of disability. The data generated by the election officials is very superficial,” said Mr. Deepak.

Ahead of the elections, the district election office had encouraged disabled persons to participate in the voter enrolment camps but failed to offer the services at their doorstep. Several weeks ahead of the announcement of Lok Sabha elections, many of the representatives of the persons with disability in the city alleged that they were unable to get services pertaining to electoral aspects including inclusion of names on rolls.

They also alleged that many of the electoral officials were unable to facilitate enrolment of residents with disability. Mr. Deepak stressed on the need for the Election Commission to initiate a process throughout the year, improving access for the persons with disability with regard to voting. Vaishnavi Jayakumar, member of Disability Rights Alliance, said mapping of persons with disability for polling booth facilities is counterproductive and unfair.

“At least 2% of the voters in Chennai are disabled. There should be at least 76,000 voters with disability. Proper mapping of persons with disability may help in assigning sign language interpreters for the hearing impaired voters. All polling booths should have properly designed ramps, and wheelchairs,” she said.

Source : The Hindu

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