In another step towards encouraging people to come out and vote, the Election Commission (EC) has for the first time introduced Braille voter slips along with the EVMs with stickers that have perforations to help visually impaired persons read.
The voter slip contains the name of the voter, his/her voter ID number and the booth number to which he or she has to reach to cast their vote.
This is written in Braille, as well as in black and white on all voter slips being handed over to the visually impaired citizens.
Over the years, the EC has been moving towards making the election process easier for people. Until now the visually impaired had to take help of someone who could guide them through the voting process.
During the last Lok Sabha elections in 2014, in a few constituencies, EVMs with Braille were used to help some of the visually impaired people. This was much appreciated, and encouraged with that, these were used in some of the assembly elections, too, thereafter.
Now the entire country will have Braille enabled EVMs for the first time. Chief Election Commissioner Sunil Arora had spoken about this when the election dates for the Lok Sabha elections 2019 were declared.
Arora had also spoken about the logistics that would be worked out for getting physically challenged and visually impaired people to polling booths.
In Maharashtra, there are registered 48,000 visually impaired persons, which boils down to 1,000 in each constituency. Braille printing press of the National Association for the Blind (NAB) based in Mumbai, and the Blind Peoples Association based in Ahmedabad are working overtime to print the dummy ballot papers and the voter slips.
Suhas Karnik, honorary member of the NAB, said, “We have one of the biggest Braille printing press in India and have already printed for the first phase of the election and it is dispatch, too.”
Ketan Kothari, a disability-rights activist said, “No political party thinks about us. We don’t appear in the manifesto in any of the political parties. But I am impressed with the Election Commission who has called me thrice in one week to ask if I need a vehicle to get to the polling booth.”
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