Kolkata: Disabled voters are getting special attention at polling booths in the West Bengal Assembly
elections as they don't have to stand in queues and can avail of aids like wheelchairs and braille EVMs.
"We have a policy for them that all those voters who are differently-abled can give their vote on their own. They are being given priority treatment and there is no queue for them. Standing instructions have been issued to all polling officers that there should be no waiting time for them," Amitjyoti Bhattacharya, Deputy Chief Electoral officer, said.
The poll panel has made a list of disabled voters in each polling station for easy identification.
"We flagged them in the electoral rolls. Wherever they were in large numbers the returning officers are ensuring more facilities," he said.
According to officials they are ensuring that each and every polling station has wheelchairs and either permanent or temporary ramps are there to make the place friendly for disabled folk.
In cases where the booth is not on the ground floor, polling officials have been asked to ensure that wheelchair-bound voters are taken to the respective areas.
Even visually challenged voters will not have to depend on others as the EVMs have braille signage on ballot units indicating the serial number of the candidate.
A dummy ballot paper indicating the names and the serial numbers of the contesting candidates is provided to the presiding officers, officials said.
Disability activists, however, allege that initiatives have not been implemented properly at all places.
"We have noticed that full implementation is not being done. In some places, the height at which the EVM is kept is too high for a wheelchair-bound person. So they have to take the help of other people in pressing the button. The secrecy of their vote is not maintained," Debajyoti Roy, secretary of the NGO National Institute of Professionals said.
East Midnapore district administration has taken the lead by providing Booth 'Sahayak' or helpers for all such voters.
They also run a special training programme for visually impaired and hearing impaired persons at sub-division level and another training program for awareness of polling personnel about requirements of differently abled persons.
To ensure higher turnout among the disabled voters, poll campaigns were also designed specifically for them in some districts.