Disabled voters may not be denied access to polling booths this year as the election commission has said ramps will be set up outside almost all the 51,607 booths in Tamil Nadu. EC has also directed polling officers to ensure that election booths are “disabled-friendly”. “In the last Assembly elections, we instructed polling officers to set up ramps, but only a few booths had ramps. This time we will ensure that all booths have ramps,” said an Election Department official. Electronic voting machines will also have Braille stickers to help the visually impaired cast their votes.
When they enter the booths, visually impaired voters will be given a Braille sheet with serial numbers of the candidates. They will read the numbers in Braille and press the numbers of their choice on the Braille stickers pasted on the electronic voting machines, the official explained. They will also be allowed to take a companion along to exercise their franchise.
According to former chief election commissioner TS Krishnamurthy, the poll panel decided to get disabled-friendly as there were complaints from a few disabled voters in Kolkata who said they could not climb the stairs to cast their votes. This time, EC will offer special training to polling officers to assist disabled voters. They will be shown films of how disabled voters should be guided. This apart, polling officers will be given tips on handling impersonation and tendered voters through video clips.