Odisha’s only Braille press to print ballot papers for the blind

Berhampur: Ahead of the 2019 elections, there is some news which will certainly bring a smile on the faces of the visually impaired voters across Odisha. Now the visually challenged people can exercise their franchise without the assistance of anybody including presiding officers as Braille ballot papers will be used during the upcoming polls, official sources said.

The State’s only Braille printing press has been given the responsibility of printing the Braille ballot papers. Chief Electoral Officer, Surendra Kumar informed that efforts are on to come up with necessary infrastructure so that divyang voters can be included in the election process.

Earlier, the blind voters needed assistance for reaching the polling booths and even for exercising their franchise.

“We earlier needed an escort. But with the introduction of Braille ballot papers, we can easily exercise our franchise without anybody’s help,” said Dibakar Patnaik, a visually challenged voter.

Already the process of printing ballot papers has started at Berhampur’s Braille printing press. Moreover, dummy Braille ballot papers containing the names of 16 candidates in the first phase and 500 dummy ballot papers with a provision for 26 candidates were sent to the State Election Commission in the second phase. However, there is requirement of additional manpower for execution of the plan.

“We have submitted dummy ballot papers which were used for training. With the existing manpower, we can come up with Braille ballot papers for 15 districts,” said Braille Printing Press manager, Prakash Rath.

Devendra, an employee of the press said “There is dearth of data operators and there is need of proof readers and other experts to complete the entire process for the election.
There is a proposal to seek assistance from government employees engaged in other press units across the country.”