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Not all polling booths accessible to the disabled 7th April 2021 (Advocacy & Lobbying)

Madurai: Though much publicity was done by the Election Commission over arrangements made for people with disabilities, there were many drawbacks such as absence of braille EVMs and wheel chairs at all the booths in the district.

The colony for the visually impaired at Sakkimangalam here has about 60 families and 100 votes. These families were rehabilitated here about a decade ago and each household has at least one visually impaired person.
Thanga Perumal, a resident in the colony, said they had settled here in 2013 after land was allotted by the then DMK government and the houses constructed by Rotary Club.
He said that even in 2019 Lok Sabha elections they voted on EVMs fitted with braille stickers which helped them identify the party symbol and vote accordingly.
Earlier they could take their children or a helper with sight to vote for them.
Bose and Augustin, two residents, said they realised unavailability of braille EVMs only when they reached the polling booth and had to seek the help of the officials at the booths to vote for them.
“The only thing is that though we believe the officials would have done their duty and voted for the candidates as per the wish of the voter, there is an inkling of a doubt,” they said.
Thanga Perumal said that he usually waited for his son Daniel Thangadurai to assist him, but as he was working in Nagercoil, he decided to go and vote. Nearly 70 of them had voted by 4pm on Tuesday. Daniel is a first time voter.
Tamil Nadu Crawling Physically Disabled Persons Association general secretary S Raja complained that he had not found a wheelchair to go into the poll booth, though it had a ramp. Polling officials said that they would make arrangements to provide him with a wheelchair.