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Election Commission Focuses on Accessibility: Review Meeting on Poll Preparedness for Persons with Disabilities (PwDs) and Senior Citizens

Bhubaneswar: In a proactive move to ensure inclusive electoral practices, the Election Commission of India conducted a sensitization meeting through video conferencing. The primary agenda of the meeting was to enhance poll preparedness to boost the voting percentage of Persons with Disabilities (PwDs) and elderly voters while maintaining an equal access framework.

As per the latest data from the office of the CEO, Odisha, the Final Electoral Roll for 2024, published on 5th January 2024, reflects a notable increase in PwD elector enrollment. The numbers rose from 4,57,827 to 5,16,330, marking a 12% surge in PwD electors. The districts have been instructed to take special measures for identifying and enrolling all eligible PwD voters in the E-Roll.

Polling station infrastructure has been optimized to facilitate the participation of aged and PwD electors. All 37,809 polling stations are situated on the ground floor for easy access. Permanent ramps, not exceeding a gradient of 1:12, have been provided, and wide publicity will be given about their availability. Separate queues for PwD and senior citizen voters will be arranged, with priority given to PwDs for entry. The polling stations will be equipped with chairs for voter convenience, and 39,999 wheelchairs have been arranged across the state.

A helpline is operational at the district level to address complaints and concerns of PwDs and elderly voters, ensuring a seamless voting experience. The Election Commission of India is committed to eliminating obstacles and providing a conducive environment for PwDs and elderly voters.

Simultaneously, a two-day training program was conducted for District Level Police Officers at the Biju Patnaik State Police Academy. The officers were trained as “District Level Master Trainers in Election Management” to address challenges related to the free and fair conduct of the upcoming simultaneous General Election – 2024. They are expected to disseminate their knowledge to every police personnel deployed at the district level for the election process. The Chief Electoral Officer is taking comprehensive measures to ensure a smooth and fair election process in the state.

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