For making the 2014 General Elections in India participatory and accessible for voters with disabilities the Centre for Law and Policy Research and the Centre for Internet and Society have come up with a report. The report addresses the barriers that people with disabilities face during elections and recommends solutions for the same.
The report examines three main areas:
- The barriers that people with disabilities face at the time of elections.
- The legal framework around this issue.
- The measures which need to be taken to eliminate the barriers in the pre-voting phase, during voting phase and also post-voting phase, so as to enhance the participation of voters with disabilities.
Access to the public sphere and full political participation is a matter of right for persons with disabilities and the state is constitutionally mandated to enforce this right. The rights of voters with disabilities are examined under the constitutional provisions, the Representation of People’s Act 1951, the relevant directions of the Supreme Court and the international conventions. This report also considers international best practices while making recommendations, to the extent that they are suitable and practical in the Indian context.
This report looks at Electoral Participation in two dimensions:
- “Pre-electoral Participation” and
- “Actual Electoral Participation”
The report then goes on to make recommendations for enhancing accessibility in both these categories.
On Pre-electoral Participation, the report inter alia recommends the following:
- Opportunities for people with disabilities to participate in public consultations.
- Immediate outreach programs for higher voter registrations.
- Making election material and candidate guides available in different formats such as large print, Braille and audio formats upon request so that voters can have full knowledge of the candidate they want to vote for.
- Providing information for voters about locations which have special access, wheelchair facilities, technological assistance for visually impaired, etc.
On Actual Electoral Participation, we inter alia recommend the following:
- Accessible polling sites.
- Training election staff to be sensitive to diverse needs of voters.
- Enabling privacy and independent voting by persons with disabilities.
- Arranging for mobile polling booths.
- Making EVM’s compatible and accessible such as by providing for Braille, large print.
- Tactile buttons, 'sip and puff' and audio devices.
The report also recommends the need to monitor participation of voters with disabilities in the forthcoming elections.There is a need to collect data, surveys and studies in the pre-election, election and post-election phases.
Click here to download and read the full report (PDF, 4.5 MB)