‘Make polling booths disabled-friendly’

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Fourteen organisations working for persons with disabilities in the State have appealed the office of the Chief Electoral Officer (CEO), Karnataka, to ensure that polling stations are disabled-friendly.

A memorandum in this regard was submitted to S. Ziyaullah, Additional Chief Electoral Officer, by representatives from ASTHA and Association for People with Disability (APD) here on Thursday.

Sunil Jain from ASTHA told The Hindu that despite instructions from the office of the CEO to ensure that polling stations are disabled-friendly, a sample survey of polling stations in Basavanagudi Assembly constituency showed that around 40 per cent were not accessible to persons with disabilities.

“We inspected the 70-odd polling stations in the constituency on March 29 and found that almost 40 per cent of them were not accessible. Nearly six per cent of the population is disabled and by not providing accessibility, the disabled will not be able to exercise their franchise,” he said.

V.S. Basavaraju, executive director, APD, said that the organisations were seeking specific support from the CEO to make all polling stations accessible. The organisations have urged the CEO, Karnataka to put in place a facility on its website, requesting voters with disabilities to register, as is being done by the CEO-Delhi. “This will help in identifying booths where people with disabilities will have to go to vote and make adequate arrangements there,” they stated.

The organisations have also demanded arrangements to track entries on the website and SMS drive with an exclusive mobile number portal to call for information from people with disability. “The polling booths also need to be manned by some representatives from the disability sector to assist voters with disabilities, and if required, we can provide such assistance,” they stated in the memorandum.

Mr. Ziyaullah said that instructions with regard to making polling booths accessible had already been issued by the CEO Karnataka.

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