Doorstep voting facility for senior citizens, disabled this election in Jharkhand

Election duty staff ink marks a voter's finger at a poling booth in Bangalore during the Karnataka Assembly Election. (UNI Photo)
Election duty staff ink marks a voter’s finger at a poling booth in Bangalore during the Karnataka Assembly Election. (UNI Photo)

Nearly 498,000 senior citizens and disabled people in Jharkhand will be able to exercise their franchise from their homes through postal ballot for the first time during this assembly elections, beginning from November 30, officials said.

Jharkhand’s chief electoral officer (CEO), Vinay Kumar Choubey, said the Election Commission of India (ECI) has made provision for voting through postal ballot for senior citizens above the age of 80 years and persons with disability (PWD).

“The voters of these categories who want to cast their votes through the postal ballot will have to fill form-12 D. Once they filled the form, they will not be able to participate in the normal process of voting at polling stations,” Choubey said.

There are nearly 218,000 senior citizen voters above 80 years of age and the number for PWD is around 280,000.

Booth level officers (BLOs) will visit houses of such persons and get these voters to fill the required form. The forms should reach the returning officer within five days following the date of notification of election, officials said.

“Polling teams will be constituted in this regard soon. The number of teams will depend on the number of voters wanting to cast their votes through postal ballot,” Choubey said.

“The team will visit house to house for the election process. Each team will be provided with adequate security and vehicles. Video-recording of the voting will also be done,” he said.

He said these voters would also be informed in advance about the date when the polling team would reach to them.

“The process of postal voting will be completed three days before the polling. For example, Jharkhand will go to the first phase polls on November 30. So, the process of the postal ballot will be completed by November 27,” he said.

Due to old-age complications or disability, many people face trouble to make it to polling stations to cast their votes during elections. The ECI felt their problems and made changes accordingly, officials said.

“After the Lok Sabha polls, the Election Commission felt that an amendment in the election rules was needed so that persons with disability can also exercise their rights through postal ballot or e-voting,” chief election commissioner (CEC), Sunil Arora, said this while announcing the election dates for Jharkhand on November 1 in New Delhi.

“So, commission made a recommendation to the union government (ministry of law and justice), which was accepted by the Centre. The new initiative is being introduced for the first time in Jharkhand elections,” he had said.

The poll body has also directed state official to arrange proper access to the disabled, who want to exercise their franchise at polling stations.

Poll Graphics

Total voters: 2.27 crore

Male voters: 11.18 crore

Female voters: 1.09 crore

Third gender voters: 248

Young voters (Age 18-19): 4.21 lakh

Persons with disability: 2.8 lakh

Senior citizens above 80 years: 2.18 lakh

Divyang Park in need of care

Divyang Park in need of care
A dangerous spot at Divyang Park, Sector 5, Panchkula. Amit Bathla

A first-of-its-kind in North India, Divyang Park at Sector 5 in Panchkula has been crying for attention as equipments installed there have been damaged. The park, meant for specially abled children, needs a specialised caretaker as equipments inside it are being misused by adults. Cleanliness in the park is also a matter of concern as wrappers can be seen all over the park. Today, a group of youngsters, all in their 20s, was seen mishandling one of the play equipments meant to be used by specially abled children.

An elderly man sitting on a chair nearby said this happened every day and Divyang Park was badly in need of a caretaker. He said, “Many adults mishandle these equipments meant to be used by divyangs.” Divyang Park has been developed by METL and Reliance Foundation under the guidance of the Social Justice and Empowerment Department, Haryana.

It has been clearly mentioned in a notice put up by the authorities that the park is designed for children with special needs and also for other children to play together to promote inclusion.