Panjim: The Chief Electoral Office (CEO), which is gearing up for the forthcoming Lok Sabha elections, due next year, is on a mission to ensure wider participation of people with disabilities after having found that many of them couldn’t or didn’t exercise their fundamental right to vote during the 2017 assembly elections.
The Election Commission of India (ECI) theme for the 2019 Parliamentary polls is ‘Accessible Elections’. The CEO Goa is also working in that direction to achieve the goal of accessible elections. The CEO on Tuesday held a meeting with various institutions and NGOs working towards the cause of people with disability to gather valuable inputs to make election process more friendly to them.
Representatives from various institutions voiced their opinions on issues such as enrolment of disabled people, preparation of Voter’s Guide in medium of Persons with Disabilities, Identification of Resource Persons for creation of Voter Education materials and deliberation over strategic framework of ECI on Accessible Election and roadmap to achieve it in Goa. CEO IAS Kunal said that ECI is committed for inclusion of all categories of voters in the electoral process to achieve the desired objective of universal adult suffrage as per its constitutional mandate. “Their aim to make the elections Inclusive and ethical, so that voters are informed about electoral decision and not one made based on inducement or fear,” he said.
During the February 2017 State Assembly election, CEO had introduced one polling station for disabled called ‘Divyang’ – dedicated to disabled people and where the officers on duty were also physically challenged. There were 2,000 disabled voters identified by CEO that time. The Additional CEO Narayan Navti, said that they are working to provide equal opportunities to everyone in the electoral process. During the meeting, Navti highlighted the importance of effective partnership with institutions working with People with Disabilities and the creation of facilities to cater to the specific needs of the differently – abled Persons with a view to increasing their participation in the electoral process. [H]