The Election Commission is trying to make the booths accessible to people with disabilities.
The voting for Lok Sabha 2019 elections for first phase started on April 11 in 92 seats of the country. People from all over the country are coming forward to cast their vote and participate in the election process in their respective states.
Over 58,000 polling booths have been installed in the state of Karnataka. But, most of them are not disabled-friendly and this is a problem for many voters. Many people with disabilities (PwD) fail to cast their vote as the booths are not accessible to them.
There are no ramps constructed, no wheelchairs being provided nor any railings or barriers installed for the safety of the PwD. This becomes more of an issue because some the disabled are not accompanied by any family member while casting their votes at the booth.
Although, the Election Commission (EC) has tried to make the elections disabled- friendly, but have only partially succeeded. For visually impaired people, the EC came up with voter slips in Braille.
Renu Sinha, a gazetted officer, was appointed for election duty “Polling booths are not disabled-friendly. Over the years, I have worked in different constituencies of the city but none of them had facilities to support disabled people.”
She said, “It was often us or peons who were randomly appointed to help the disabled who came to vote. This became a difficulty as most of us already were appointed for some other work, and to leave it in the middle and do something else was an issue. If the government cannot make the booths disabled-friendly, they can at least appoint people who can help them.”
Abdul Razack, a political analyst, said, “The polling booths are not at all disabled-friendly. The EC has not done much about it. The least that they can do is appointed volunteers and people who can go inside with the PwD and help them cast their votes.”
He also mentioned the fact that most of the polling booths are installed in government schools and offices with steps where there are no ramps installed making it hard for a disabled person, since, it is not possible for them to climb stairs.
NGOs are coming forward to help the disabled and they are providing wheelchairs, and helping to assist the physically-challenged. One such organization, named Nishkam Seva Jatha, is working in this sector.