Disabled voters to get the benefit of ‘Pick & Drop’ facility on voting day
The country is gearing up for elections and the Election Commission (EC) is leaving no stone unturned to ensure that they are inclusive.
The EC is doing everything it can to live up to its stated goal of No voter to be left behind. It has issued an order to chief electoral officers of all states and union territories that disabled voters must be picked up from their homes on voting day and dropped back. This facility will be given to their escorts as well.
There are also efforts to ensure that all those who are eligible for voting are included in the list. For Pinav Mota, a student from Mumbai, who is voting for the first time, the facilities that are being proposed are most welcome.
Coming elections I will be voting for the first time and I am excited about it. For visually impaired voters, the facilities proposed by the EC are welcome. Hopefully I will be able to vote using braille and exercise my right without hassles. - Pinav Mota, Student
The responsibility for the transport arrangements have been entrusted to the District Electoral Officer/ Returning Officer, and Transport Nodal Officer will also be appointed for each district.
Registered data about every voter in a particular polling station will be used to identify and locate the disabled voters.
The move will ensure that people with disabilities can exercise their right to vote and are not left behind due to mobility issues or distance from the polling booth.
However, many disabled voters are cautious about how truly inclusive these efforts will be.
The "Pick and Drop facility is useful for physically disabled people. Deaf people do not need this. What we need is proper communication through sign language so that we can decide and make a good choice. Without this any election is not accessible for people who are deaf", says Mervyn Pereira, a voter in Mumbai, Maharashtra
This is a valid point and something the EC has looked into. It has been organising training sessions in sign language for the election staff to sensitize them about the needs of deaf voters who wish to exercise their voting rights.