The Assembly Elections 2022 recorded a 17% rise in differently-abled voters in what is being hailed as an inclusive achievement. The numbers were published by the Election Commission of India (ECI) regarding the ongoing polls. According to the data, the count has gone up from 1,123,946 in 2019 to 1,316,264 this year, which is almost a fifth compared to the Lok Sabha elections four years ago.
Currently, the polls are in the second phase and are taking place in Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Goa, Punjab and Manipur. While UP has seven phases, the rest of the states have a single phase each for its assembly seats.
Voting is a fundamental right of every Indian citizen. However, certain sections of society have been left out due to minimal access to the ballot, preventing them from exercising. This year, necessary arrangements ensure that this year's Assembly elections are inclusive. According to the Hindustan Times, 'divyang dolis' (carriers) are provided to the voters in Uttarakhand's remote constituencies, such as Bageshwar. Earlier, citizens in a wheelchair found it daunting to reach the polling station as it had no arrangements.
Not just Uttarakhand, Goa also followed suit. The polling stations installed permanent ramps with handrails for voters on a wheelchair, ballot guides in Braille and tactile flooring to make it easier for Blind people. "I proposed that instead of spending money every election on wooden ramps, permanent ones be fitted that can be used through the rest of the year by people," a member on the North Goa advisory board named Vishant S Nagvekar told The Times of India. Along with this, eight booths will solely be handled by persons of disabilities, where five will be in the North and three in South Goa.
Uttar Pradesh leads with the highest number of differently-abled voters out of the five states. As reported by India Today, Lucknow has set up a postal ballot facility for differently-abled voters, and they will manage around nine booths to facilitate increased participation.
The much-anticipated elections started on February 10. With the second phase wrapped up, all eyes are on the remaining phases and what it has in store for the political parties fighting in the prelude to the upcoming Lok Sabha elections in 2023.