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Lok Sabha elections and assembly by polls will take place simultaneously in Nagaland on April 11
Lok Sabha elections and assembly by polls will take place simultaneously in Nagaland on April 11|Representational Image
NAGALAND

How Nagaland is trying to host disabled-friendly polls this year

State government’s approach to accessibility becomes more inclusive; to offer wheelchair facilities, Braille-enabled EVMs, ballot papers in most polling stations

Medolenuo Ambrocia

Medolenuo Ambrocia

Kohima: In an effort to increase accessibility for ‘persons with disability’ (PwD), 200 polling stations in Nagaland will have wheelchair facilities, announced state chief electoral officer (CEO) Abhijit Sinha. While ramps will be built in most polling stations, Braille-enabled ballot papers will be offered in all of them, he added.

With the increase of PwD voters to 6,081 in the state, Nagaland’s approach to accessibility has become more amiable and inclusive.

Addressing a press conference in Kohima on Tuesday, Sinha revealed that as an additional facility to this year’s election, Braille-enabled ballot papers will be introduced in “uniformity” at all the 2,227 polling stations across the state. All the 16 polling stations under the Aonglenden constituency will have two separate voting machines, one for the parliamentary election and other for the by-election, as voting will simultaneously take place there.

It will be the first time that Braille-enabled ballot papers will be used in elections, although the exact figure of blind voters was not yet revealed. Meanwhile, the state has only one polling station in Wokha which will be presided and managed by a differently-abled team, and a total of 255 all-women polling stations.

Motsuthung Patton, commissioner and RO, said that in all, four nominations each were filed for both the lone Sabha seat and the by-election to Aonglenden constituency.

The candidates for Parliamentary election are Tokheho Yepthomi from Nationalist Democratic Progressive Party (NDPP), the consensus candidate of the People’s Democratic Alliance (PDA), KL Chishi from Congress, Haithung Tungoe of National People’s Party (NPP) and and Dr. MM Thromwa Konyak who filed the nomination as a member of the Indian Christian secular party (ICSP).

However, after scrutiny on Tuesday, Konyak, who failed to produce the original party authorisation document, was “deemed to be an independent candidate”, said Patton.

For the by-election to Aonglenden constituency, the four candidates are Congress candidate Alem Jongshi, Sharingain Longkumer(NDPP), brother of deceased MLA O Tinu Lkr (NPP), and Toshipokba(NPF).

CEO Sinha said that the updated and final list of voters in the state stands at 12,13,777, of which 6,15,274 are male and 5,98,503 female, with a gender ratio of 984. While the total electors for the by polls is 12,482 with 6,192 male and 6,290 female with a gender ratio of 1023.

The total electors between 18 and 19 years of age stands at 21,180.

The three phases for inspecting monetary expenditure is scheduled on March 29, April 4 and April 8, respectively. Of the 450 sensitive and vulnerable polling stations, 280 stations will carry out live web streaming and 170 with offline videography. Meanwhile, all 16 polling stations in Aonglenden constituency have been identified as sensitive.

Toshipokba (NPF) is the only candidate who declared a criminal record citing an “allegation against transport of ganja,” Sinha added.

For parliamentary electors, Election Duty Certificate is to be provided and no postal ballot is to be entertained, unlike the by-election.

The final date for withdrawal of candidature is scheduled April 28 by 3 pm. For the availability of Electronic Voting Machine (EVM) and Voter Verifiable Paper Audit Trial (VVPAT), there are 3,255 ballot units, 3,304 control units and 3,271 VVPAT.

So far, election security teams have seized 19,038.949 litres of liquor, Rs 69,57,740 in cash and six arms. Besides the security forces, village guards and home guards will be part of election security duty.