Guwahati: In a bid to make the election process an all-inclusive one, the election department of Assam has collaborated with Shishu Sarothi’s Disability Law Unit, for conducting a series of awareness programmes.
The awareness drive was carried out in five zones across the state, including Goalpara, Silchar, Lakhimpur, Nagaon and Dibrugarh. Representatives from the election department, local NGOs, along with persons with disabilities came together to spread awareness on the importance of ensuring inclusion of the differently-abled in the voting process, apart from encouraging them to participate in the exercise.
Given the ongoing summary revision of the electoral rolls, the last date for which is October 31, it is extremely important to create awareness now, on the need to include the names of disabled voters in the list.
Apart from being guaranteed the right to vote by the constitution, the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (RPD) Act, 2016 specifically mandates both the Election Commission of India (ECI) and State Election Commissions to ensure that all polling stations are accessible to persons with disabilities and all materials related to the electoral process are accessible to them.
Any intervention for making elections accessible, is futile, if eligible voters who have disabilities are not even included in the electoral rolls in the first place. It is in this context that Shishu Sarothi, a leading not-for-profit organisation based in Guwahati, collaborated in the series of programmes to spread awareness on inclusion of persons with disabilities in the election process.
The entire initiative can be seen in line with the ECI’s commitment to “leave no voter behind”. It may be noted that the theme of “inclusion of PwDs” has been given a special focus in the ECI’s Strategic Plan 2016-2025 and “Accessible Elections” has been made the central theme for this year’s National Voters’ Day celebrations as well.