The election commission has introduced Braille ballot papers for the first time. “This is an act of recognition for the blind. So far, they have had to depend on companions to escort them to the polling station to vote,” M Shella of Little Flower Convent, said. The visually-challenged can get Braille ballot papers from the presiding officer. The paper will have a list of contesting candidates, with serial numbers, names of the candidates and party affiliation. The blind voter can read the paper and then go to cast their vote. The EC has pasted Braille numerical stickers on the right side of the buttons of the EVMs. Voters will have to look for serial numbers of the candidates they want to vote for on the ballot paper, and press the button accordingly. They will hear a beep in the control unit.
Polling stations in Madurai, Theni, Dindigul and Virudhunagar districts will use new electronic voting machines, which are fixed with Braille numeric buttons. Braille papers for North, South and Central zones were printed at NIVH, while papers for districts in the western belt, such as Coimbatore, were printed at Ramakrishna Mission. About 57,500 papers have been printed, including 3,500 for Chennai constituencies. It will be sent to all distribution points in a couple of days and will reach the polling booths on May 12, sources said. “If blind voters are illiterate or not familiar with Braille, they can take a companion to cast votes, as they did in previous elections,” says a senior election commission official.