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Odisha’s Drive for Voter Inclusivity: ECI’s Focus on Differently-Abled and Senior Citizens

Bhubaneswar: The Election Commission of India (ECI) has taken significant steps to enhance voter participation among differently-abled individuals and senior citizens (above 85 years) during the upcoming 2024 general elections. In a recent virtual meeting, the ECI reviewed the preparedness of all states in this regard.

The State Election Officer in Odisha submitted comprehensive details to the ECI regarding the arrangements made to facilitate voting for differently-abled voters. Here are the key points:

Registered Differently-Abled Voters: As of January 5, 2024, a total of 457,827 registered differently-abled voters were enrolled in the electoral rolls. Notably, the e-rolls have seen a 12% increase, identifying 516,330 differently-abled voters.

Identification Process: District administrations have been directed to identify the maximum number of differently-abled voters and mark them on e-rolls. This identification process can be conveniently carried out using an enabled mobile application. Additionally, voters with more than 40% disability listed in the voters’ roll can apply to the returning officer to cast their votes from the comfort of their homes.

Wheelchair Provision: To ensure accessibility, 39,999 wheelchairs have been arranged for the existing 37,809 booths across the state. Of these, 14,054 wheelchairs have already been dispatched to the district level, with the remainder scheduled for dispatch by March 30.

Facilitating Movement: All polling booths will be equipped with railings to facilitate smooth wheelchair movement. This measure aims to eliminate any hassles faced by differently-abled voters.

Helpline Support: A dedicated helpline at the district level will address various grievances of differently-abled individuals and senior citizens (above 85 years).

The Election Commission of India emphasises that all arrangements must be meticulously executed to ensure that voters with disabilities and senior citizens face no hindrance while entering polling booths. These efforts aim to promote inclusivity and uphold the democratic spirit of the electoral process.

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