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LS polls: ECI walks extra mile to reach at doorstep of elderly, PwD voters

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Facilitates voting from home for citizens above 85 years, PwDs

JAMMU: In a historic first, the facility of voting from home for the elderly and Persons with Disabilities has been provisioned in the 2024 Lok Sabha elections in the Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir.

“Voters above 85 years of age and Persons with Disabilities (PwDs) with 40 per cent benchmark disability criteria can avail the optional home voting facility and this category has already begun casting their votes for phase I and II of polling.”

This initiative marks a significant stride towards ensuring inclusivity and accessibility of the electoral process besides bolstering democratic participation. Specifically, this facility is being extended to two key demographic groups: Persons with Disabilities (PwDs) meeting the 40 per cent benchmark disability criteria and senior citizens aged above 85 years.

This optional facility underscores the Election Commission of India’s commitment towards ensuring that citizens’ right to vote is not encumbered by physical barriers and disabilities. This upholds the Commission’s motto of ensuring – No voter is left behind.

The procedure to avail this facility is simple yet thorough. Within five days of the election notification, the eligible voters must complete Form 12D and submit it to the returning officer while the PwD voters have to submit a baseline disability certificate with their applications.

The Booth Level Officer (BLO) is responsible for retrieving Form 12D from the elector’s place of residence when the required documentation has been completed. The candidates receive a list of these electors in order to maintain accountability and transparency; if they wish, they can choose a representative to supervise the process.

Following this, a dedicated team of polling officials along with security officials visits the voter’s residence to collect their votes. Crucially, the voters are notified ahead of time of the planned visit, allowing them to be prepared to exercise their right to vote safely and comfortably. To further expedite the procedure and improve accessibility, the voters can also receive notifications via SMS about the days when their home voting facility will be active. The complete process is also being videographed for transparency.

The provision of home voting is a progressive measure aimed at further empowering the voters. It is pertinent to mention here that the process of Home voting has already begun in PC -4 Udhampur wherein identified voters in the districts of Kathua, Udhampur, Ramban, Doda and Kishtwar have begun casting their votes via postal ballots.

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