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Voters with disabilities in Tamil Nadu expect hurdles ahead of elections

With the national election just months away, the Election Commission (EC) is trying to ensure that people from all sections of society gets to vote without any hassles.

However, the challenges are many. Take Tamil Nadu for instance where accessibility still remains a distant dream.

For starters, there is no separate list of disabled voters which means authorities have no clue about the number of disabled voters in the state.

The current condition is that visually impaired people have to struggle hard to get their names onto the list along with people with other disabilities. Options like Braille electoral identity cards (EPIC) have not even been explored making things worse for visually impaired voters.

Firstly, the government must successfully create a voters list exclusively for disabled people. Unless that is there, how will they know what facilities need to be offered and where? They just cannot have wheelchair ramps and other accessible features without the right Census. So start from the basics. The EC must tie up with other organizations to they get a detailed insight into the number of disabled people. It is high time the state government understands the importance of disabled people. -Raghu Raman, Secretary, Karma Vidya Foundation

The Rights of Persons with Disabilities Act, 2016 clearly states that the electoral process must be made accessible for people with all kinds of disabilities. But from waiting in endless queues outside pilling booths to lack of accessible transport, the problems are many.

The many promises made under the Accessible Elections campaign seem distant. While there are hundreds of polling booths with facilities like wheelchair ramps, not all disabilities have been catered to. Yet, things are bettee than before say some voters.

"I feel that our state government has been doing a great job in providing accessibility at polling booths. There is still a lot more to improve. But most of the officials and even cops at polling booths are more than ready to help you out when you need a helping hand", says Prince Durairaj from Coimbatore.

Like with every other election, the state government has promised exclusive features for people with all kinds of disabilities at polling booths. Perhaps in thr days to come, more of these features will be revealed.

ALSO READ: On National Voters Day, Karnataka government pledges accessible voting for everyone

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