Indian Electoral Commission Pledges to Make Voting Disability Friendly
5 November 2018 at 5:42 pm
A campaign launched by the Indian electoral commission, encouraging people with disability to participate in elections, has been touted a winner by a prominent Indian disability activist.
Diethono Nakhro, one of the leading voices for people with disabilities (PwD) in the Indian state of Nagaland, spoke at a workshop on accessible elections on Saturday, and said change would only happen if there was an adjustment in attitudes towards PwD.
“Making elections inclusive and accessible is not just about laws and rule books, but it is about wanting to do the right thing and then reaching out and making that little extra effort to make sure that voters with disability are not left out,” Nakhro told All India.
She thanked the commission for making PwD a priority, after they released the slogan “no voter to be left behind”, and announced a plan that it said would motivate, facilitate and enhance participation of people with disability in elections.
Only 2,500 people with disability have been identified in electoral rolls within the state, which chief electoral officer of Nagaland, Abhijit Sinha, said was incredibly low, considering in the 2011 census, 29,631 PwD were recorded in the state.
Sinha said there were various reasons for low enrollment, including apathetic attitudes when engaging PwD, as well as insufficient training given to booth level operator’s being able to identify different disabilities.
The purpose of the workshop was to teach election officers at ground level to confidently identify and ensure people with disability were enrolled to vote.
While Nakhro expressed disappointment at the fact many PwD were unwilling to enroll, she said the first step to ensuring inclusion was for electoral officers to be able to understand the different sorts of disabilities out there.
“To improve enrolment, better understanding of the various kinds of disabilities is important in order to identify voters with disability,” she said.
The national Indian election is due to take place early 2019.