In the lines of providing special Braille ballot papers for visually impaired voters, the election authority in Meghalaya has also made arrangement to assist persons with hearing disability through the ‘Meghalaya Sign Bank App’ for ensuring inclusive elections.
They will be useful for polling officials to understand and be able to communicate with hearing impaired voters, the Meghalaya CEO informed on Monday.
Kharkongor said that this is one of the measures taken for achieving the goal of accessible elections and with the objective to ensure that no voter is left behind as per slogan of Election Commission of India (ECI).
Stating that there are provisions laid out for the rights of people with disabilities, he said the braille ballot papers for the visually impaired will be available in all the 3,617 polling stations that are going to the polls on April 11.
The CEO was quoted as saying that apart from that the visually impaired will also get a braille-enabled Epic card.
The CEO further informed that the Election department is mulling of issuing braille voter’s slips for them but that is still being explored.
Meghalaya has a total of 804 voters who are visually impaired.
The CEO informed that senior government officials have also been appointed as accessibility observers who will be going to each and every district to see how far these measures are taking into effect for the benefit of persons with disabilities.
Meanwhile, the Election Commission has also decided to involve youths from different organizations like the Meghalaya Bharat Scouts & Guides, NSS, NYK as ‘Matdata Mitra’ or ‘Election Friends’ to assist persons with disabilities during the polling day.
The CEO said that they will be deployed in those polling stations where there are large numbers of persons with disabilities to ensure there is priority voting for such people besides helping senior citizens and mothers.
According to him, necessary instructions have been given to all the returning officers to ensure these facilities are in place for persons with disabilities on April 11.
Moreover, in order to combat the apathy of urban voters to stand in long queues, the Meghalaya Election department has come up with a Queue Management App.
The voters can just send his/her Epic card number to the particular number in the App and will get an update about the length of the queue, and how many people there are at various point of time in the day so that accordingly he/she can plan to come and cast his vote.