IANS

The Election Commission of India (ECI) on Saturday announced the option of 'vote-from-home' for citizens above 85 years of age, and Persons with Disabilities (PwD) with 40 per cent disability benchmark, marking the first instance of the poll panel offering such a facility.

Announcing the Lok Sabha poll schedule here on Saturday, the ECI provided details on the country's voter list, polling booths, the number of EVMs to be used, and the security protocols to be implemented for the peaceful conduct of the polls, among other details.

Rajiv Kumar, the Chief Election Commissioner (CEC), and newly-appointed Election Commissioners Gyanesh Kumar and Sukhbir Singh Sandhu disclosed the details at a press conference here.

Amid the ongoing crisis of ethnic violence in Manipur, voters living in camps will be allowed to vote from their camps.

To address the basic public concerns, the Election Commission has issued instructions to the Chief Electoral Officers of all states/UTs to ensure that all polling stations are located on the ground floor, and ramps with proper gradients are provided for the convenience of the differently-abled electorate and senior citizens on wheelchairs.

The PwD voters can also request for wheelchair facility by registering on the SakshamECI App, while the visually-impaired persons also take a companion along with him/her to cast his/her vote on his/her behalf as provided under Rule 49 N of the Conduct of Election Rules, 1961.

The booths are to be equipped with Assured Minimum Facilities (AMFs) like drinking water, a waiting shed, toilets with water facility, adequate arrangements for lighting, a ramp with proper gradient for the PwD electors, and a standard voting compartment, among others.

The ECI has also directed the CEO/DEOs to make efforts to make permanent ramps and permanent infrastructure at every polling station. Further, to provide targeted and need-based facilitation to PwD voters and senior citizens, the poll panel has directed that all the persons with disabilities and senior citizens in an Assembly constituency should be identified and tagged to their respective polling stations, and necessary disability-specific arrangements be made for their smooth and convenient voting experience on the polling day.

The identified PwD and senior citizens will be assisted by the volunteers appointed by the RO/DEO. Also, it has been directed that persons with disability and senior citizens be given priority for entering the polling booths.

Special focus has been laid on sensitisation of polling personnel regarding the special needs of the differently-abled electorate.

Besides, dummy ballot sheets in Braille will also be made available at the polling stations to assist the visually-impaired voters.

CEC Kumar informed that there are 88.4 lakh PwD voters, 88 lakh voters above the age of 85, 48,000 transgenders, and 2.18 lakh centenarians who will participate in the upcoming elections.

(Except for the headline, this story, from a syndicated feed, has not been edited by Odishatv.in staff)

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