Volume 2 Issue 8 - April 15, 2004
Poor access to polling stations is a bar to democracy
DNIS News Network -- The lack of facilities at polling booths for disabled voters has been highlighted by the campaigning NGO Disabled Rights Group (DRG).
The group said despite the fact that disabled people were guaranteed equal opportunities with the passing of the Disability Act back in 1995, the situation for the 14th Lok Sabha elections had not changed. It will be the fourth General Election since the passing of the Bill but facilities for crores of voters are still not provided at polling stations across the country. The group's Convener and spokesman Javed Abidi pointed out that disabled people too are citizens of India and asked: "Do we not have the right to cast our vote?"
Five "easy steps" were suggested to ensure the 2004 elections were disabled-friendly. (See feature 'Five easy steps to make general elections 2004 disabled-friendly', DNIS, April 01, 2004.) The initial journey to the polling station is a problem for many, as buses are not equipped to take wheelchairs and drivers are often unwilling to allow time for elderly or infirm passengers to board and get off buses safely. DRG wants all drivers to be instructed to be sensitive to the needs of all passengers on polling day.
The second obstacle comes at the entry to the polling station as, due to security concerns, vehicles are not allowed near the booths. DRG has demanded special concessions for vehicles carrying disabled people. But even after a disabled voter makes it to the door of a polling station, they face the biggest problem: a flight of stairs. Some are lucky enough to be assisted by onlookers who will lift a wheelchair up the steps, but this is by no means a dignified solution for the person being manhandled. It is also the case that many are simply turned away at this point. The solution, says DRG, is to make it mandatory for polling station officers to provide ramps at all stations, and to ensure that polling booths are situated on the ground floor of stations.
It is not only wheelchair users who face difficulties at the polling booth: the right of a secret ballot is denied to visually impaired voters who must take a companion with them in order to place their vote. In some cases even this measure is not allowed. However, the solution is simple: to paste Braille symbols onto the Electronic Voting Machines, so that secrecy is maintained.
Hearing impaired voters also face harassment and abuse from polling officials, who fail to understand their needs and difficulties.
DRG is demanding that all polling officials must be sensitised to the needs of all disabled voters in order to ensure the forthcoming election is India's first truly democratic poll of all sections of society.
DNIS is produced and managed by:
National Centre for Promotion of Employment for Disabled People
Screening Guidelines to be followed by CISF Security Staff for Passengers with Disabilities at Indian Airports
Rights of Persons with Disabilities Bill
Mental Health Care Bill
CRPD Monitoring Report
20 Stories of Change(book)
- List of Awardees 2015 :NCPEDP MPHASIS Universal Design Awards (2.7 MB)
- List of Awardees 2014 :NCPEDP MPHASIS Universal Design Awards (1 MB)
- List of Awardees 2013 :NCPEDP MPHASIS Universal Design Awards (1.44 MB)
- List of Awardees 2012 :NCPEDP MPHASIS Universal Design Awards (804 KB)
- List of Awardees 2011 :NCPEDP MPHASIS Universal Design Awards (864 KB)
- List of Awardees 2010 :NCPEDP MPHASIS Universal Design Awards (623 KB)
SHELL HELEN KELLER AWARDS
NCPEDP-Shell Helen Keller Awardees 2013
- Enabling act
- Poor access to polling stations is a bar to democracy
- Protestors demand their democratic rights
- Independent candidate slams big two parties for ignoring significant minority
- Accessibility is not an expensive issue
- CEC agrees to meet DRG representatives
- DRG puts demands to Krishnamurthy
- High Court orders report on disability bar
- President meets disability campaigners
- EC issues response to DRG's election demands
- Javed Abidi to fast unto death over EC's "apathetic attitude"
Disability News and Information Service is produced and managed by: