Make booths accessible for elderly, disabled

With polling day over, the wait for the next Chief Minister (CM) of Maharashtra begins. Counting days are on and the result is expected on Sunday. The media is full of analysis and predictions about the next state government. Tucked away amidst these, are several reports about how the old and differently-abled, found it hard to cast their votes as many booths did not offer facilities for this demographic.

Even in Pune, there were several complaints about the absence of wheelchairs and ramps making the differently-abled simply unable to vote, or go through immense hardship to cast their vote.

During the Lok Sabha elections, this paper had a man on a wheelchair, Girish Gogia, as ambassador, urging everybody to cast their votes, with the message that if he could vote, why couldn’t they? At that time, Gogia had spoken about how he would be lifted by people and taken to the machine to cast his vote. He had said that he had friends who used to help him.

Many disabled persons and the old are not so fortunate. One has to ensure that there are enough volunteers on hand to assist them. Most polling centres are located in schools and a majority of them do not have ramps. While it may be difficult to build ramps, authorities need to think of having a special ground floor space for the disabled and senior citizens who cannot access the stairs. In this way, there will be many more from this section who will come out to cast their vote. There will also be a sense of satisfaction and some relief from the old and disabled that they are factored in during the elections, that somebody cares for them too and their voice is as important as that of others.

As India moves on to the global stage in every way, let us use foresight and put thought into everything we do. Election booths with facilities for all persons, must be a given for a country aiming to join the world’s power players in all aspects.

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