The Election Commission is breaking barriers of disability by making voting accessible for people with disabilities
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Digital Democracy: Remote Voting Opens Doors For All Abilities

88.4 lakh people with disabilities are eligible to vote in the Lok Sabha election 2024

Written By: | Edited By: | March 20, 2024

New Delhi: “Secret ballot has never been a secret activity for me,” says 36-year-old Nipun Malhotra, bound to a wheelchair since childhood. Reaching the polling booth and pressing the button on the EVM has always been challenging for Nipun.

A Disability Rights Advocate and Founder of the Nipman Foundation, he recalls,

“In one of the Lok Sabha elections, I visited the National Media Centre in Gurugram to cast my vote. The entrance had a couple of steps. People had to lift me in my wheelchair. In the polling booth, I couldn’t extend my hand up to button on the EVM machine as well. I had to take someone’s help to press the button and vote.”

Nipun isn’t alone. At least, 88.4 lakh people with disabilities are eligible to vote in the upcoming Lok Sabha elections.

Para Archer and Arjuna Awardee Sheetal Devi, will be the Election Commission of India (ECI) National People with Disabilities (PwD) icon.

Also Read: Doctors Declared He Would Have A Life Of A ‘Wooden Doll’, But Life Had Other Plans  

To make the elections accessible for people with disabilities, the Election Commission of India (ECI) has come up with five-point guidelines:

  1. Voters above 85 years of age and persons with disabilities with a 40 per cent benchmark disability can vote from home.
  2. Volunteers and wheelchairs will be deployed at polling stations.
  3. Transport facilities will be available for persons with disabilities and the elderly.
  4. Saksham app to avail special facilities at polling stations. According to the ECI, the Saksham app provides information on polling stations, including the location and the accessibility features available at the polling station, and the contact details of the polling officials. The app offers voice assistance for those with visual impairment; text-to-speech for people with hearing impairment and other accessibility features like large fonts and high-contrast colors.
  5. Push for permanent Assured Minimum Facilities in schools, gift of election process to students.

In an interview with the news agency Press Trust of India (PTI), Former Chief Election Commissioner of India T S Krishnamurthy suggested that online voting facility be provided to senior citizens, physically-challenged persons and members of the uniformed services, to start with. He said,

“Though there are countries where internet voting is permitted, we have to carry on with the consent of political parties (in India). There is no point in introducing something over which they have reservations. But my feeling is that at least initially senior citizens and handicapped people and those in uniformed services could all be given internet voting.”

Also Read: Wheelchair Whiz: Cerebral Palsy Survivor’s PhD Victory

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