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Actual number of disabled voters in Telangana missing from list, activists ask for special campaign

The Network of Persons with Disabilities Organisations (NPdO) has asked the Election Commission of India (ECI) to hold a special one-week campaign in Telangana to ensure that no voter with disability, who is eligible to vote, is left out of the rolls.

This is after an RTI filed by the organization as well as field reports highlighted that only seven types of persons with disabilities have been enrolled, while the Rights of Persons with Disabilities Act, 2016 recognizes 21 types of disabilities.

It is regrettable that people with psychosocial and blood disorder disabilities have been ignored and neglected in the recent voter enrolment drive. We found after field studies and the RTI that the concerned election authorities at the village level are not aware of the new disabilities that have been included. Election officers are still following pension beneficiaries lists and the certificate holders' list as per websites. - Srinivasulu, President, Network of Persons with Disabilities Organisations (NPdO)

As per the Constitution of India, every person above the age of 18 years has the right to vote and should get accessible facilities. Activists say that nearly eight lakh voters with disabilities in Telangana are missing from the voter rolls and have asked the ECI to address this to ensure the Accessible Elections campaign is followed in letter and spirit.

"With the present government moving to advance elections, it is critical that the voter rolls reflect the accurate numbers," says Srinivasulu . "The figure of seven lakh disabled voters that the ECI has stated does not reflect the correct picture because many of those included are children who have no voting rights. Collecting disability data from websites and beneficiaries' list is not enough."

The NPdO has asked the ECI to look at a campaign that includes include media announcements, door to door enrolment, enrolment camps at residential institutions for persons with intellectual and psychosocial disabilities, etc. This was the system followed for the 2016 Assembly elections in Tamil Nadu and West Bengal.

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