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Goa Assembly by-polls: EC to make polling booths disabled friendly, fails on EVMs with Braille

DNIS News Network- When five Goa constituencies go for crucial assembly by-poll on 02 June, persons with disabilities will be able to exercise their franchise, thanks to a timely intervention by disability sector in demanding from the Election Commission steps to make all polling booths barrier free, and instillation of Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs) equipped with Braille.

Citing the Supreme Court order of 19 April 2004 for making polling booths accessible, Disability Rights Association of Goa (D.R.A.G) wrote a letter to the chief electoral officer asking for instillation of voting machines with Braille and wooden ramps at polling booths, allowing visually impaired and mobility handicapped voter to be accompanied by a companion.

The move by D.R.A.G was facilitated by a daylong workshop organised in association with National Centre for Promotion of Employment for Disabled People (N.C.P.E.D.P) in which these recommendations were mooted.In response to the letter, Election Commission of India issued instructions to the local authorities saying: “Persons with speech and hearing impairment should be given special care, along with persons with other disabilities. Also the senior citizens should be permitted to join separate queue…. Also kindly ensure that two peons are posted at the polling booths to assist persons with disability.

These moves will go a long way in making the electoral process emancipatory, but the crucial demand of equipping voting machines with Braille has not been addressed.