Article 324 of the Constitution provides for the Election Commission, its powers and functions for maintenance of the Electoral Roll and conduct of elections in a free and fair manner. Article 325 provides that no person shall be ineligible for inclusion in the electoral roll on the grounds only of religion, race, caste, sex or anyone of these. Article 326 provides - Elections to the House of the People and to the Legislative Assembly of every State shall be on the basis of adult suffrage; Every citizen of India not less than eighteen years of age on such date as may be fixed in that behalf by law and is not otherwise disqualified and shall be entitled to be registered as a voter at any such election.
Provisions under Rule 49N of the Conduct of Election Rules, 1961, ECI guidelines, and Supreme Court orders directly address the issue of assistance to persons with disabilities. Under Rule 49N, if owing to blindness or other physical infirmities an elector is unable to recognise the symbol on the EVM or unable to record vote by pressing the appropriate button thereon, the presiding officer shall permit the elector to take with him a companion of not less than eighteen years of age to the voting compartment for recording the vote on his behalf and in accordance with his wishes.
- Polling personnel are to be given appropriate directions and sensitized through training classes about the special needs of the disabled and to be courteous and to provide necessary support to them at the polling station.
- Permanent ramps to be provided in all public buildings where polling stations are located. Full facility should be provided for such electors to take their wheelchair inside the polling station. Where permanent ramps have not been provided, temporary ramps have to be provided.
- Sufficient publicity to be given well in advance in print and electronic media about the availability of facilities so that the persons with disabilities are aware of the facilities beforehand, and are thus encouraged going and exercising their franchise.
Observers should also ensure that such facilities are given; the absence of such facilities should be notified to the respective Government for remedial/future action.
Edited by ECI