Assembly Elections 2018: EC looks to ensure disabled-friendly voting

Assembly Elections 2018: EC looks to ensure disabled-friendly voting

Accessible Elections:

To uphold the sanctity of free and fair elections and ensure wider participation by people with disabilities in the electoral process, the Election Commission of India had selected ‘Accessible Elections’ as the central theme of year 2018.

The barriers in access to electoral participation by PwDs:

  1. Difficulties in voter registration
  2. Inaccessible registration materials or facilities
  3. Inadequate or inaccessible voter education and related materials
  4. Difficulties in physical access to polling stations
  5. Inability to vote independently and privately
  6. Absence of or inappropriate assistance from poll workers etc.
Constitutional and Legal safeguards:

  1. Article 324 of the Constitution provides for the Election Commission, its powers and functions for maintenance of the Electoral roll and Conduct of Elections in a free and fair manner.
  2. Article 325 provides that no person shall be ineligible for inclusion in the electoral roll on the grounds of religion, race, caste, sex, et al.
  3. Provisions under rule 49N of the Conduct of Election rules, 1961, ECI guidelines, and Supreme Court orders directly address the issue of assistance to Persons with Disabilities (PwDs).
  4. The Rights of Persons with Disabilities Act, 2016 talks about accessibility in voting stating that the Election Commission of India and the State Election Commissions shall ensure that all polling stations are accessible to persons with disabilities and all materials related to the electoral process are easily understandable by and accessible to them

Steps taken by Election Commission:

Directions and Guidelines of the Election Commission for making elections “Accessible”:

  • Identification of PwDs including polling station-wise list
  • Facilitation in filling up voter registration forms
  • Assured Minimum Facilities (AMF) at Polling Stations
  • Priority-based access to facilities at polling stations
  • Matdata Sahayata Kendras and other election offices in the field
  • Involvement of NGos, CSos/DPos, rwAs
  • System Sensitisation and Training
  • Use of technology in aid of PwDs
  • Training and sensitisation of officials handing the work relating to PwDs

SVEEP (systematic voters’ education and electoral participation):

Voter education and outreach for PwDs is an integral part of the SVEEP plans. Broad areas of coverage include-

  • An officer well versed with provisions of facilities for PwDs shall be designated for each of the Assembly Constituencies.
  • wide publicity through various modes shall be ensured.
  • General publicity material shall be prepared in simple language, sign language and braille.

Special/mobile camps to be organised to educate and motivate PwDs.

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