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ECI organises national conference on accessible elections

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CEC Sushil Chandra, Election Commissioners Rajiv Kumar and Anup Chandra Pandey during National Conference on Accessible Elections on Tuesday.
CEC Sushil Chandra, Election Commissioners Rajiv Kumar and Anup Chandra Pandey during National Conference on Accessible Elections on Tuesday.

New Delhi [India], September 21 (ANI): To assess the present accessibility policies and discuss strategies for addressing barriers to enhance participation in the electoral process for voters with disabilities, the Election Commission of India (ECI) organised a virtual national conference on 'Accessible Elections 2021' on Tuesday.

Chief Election Commissioner Sushil Chandra, Election Commissioners Rajiv Kumar and Anup Chandra Pandey during National Conference on Accessible Elections on Tuesday.

According to a statement issued by the Election Commission today, it was informed during the conference that about 77.4 lakh persons with disabilities (PwDs) are registered voters.

The deliberations focused on themes of Identification/ mapping of PwDs, accessible registration, Facilitation at polling stations, efficient use of technology for accessible elections, accessible voter education and leveraging partnerships and collaborations and media outreach.

Based on suggestions received from different stakeholders, a resolution was adopted to pave the way forward to further streamline the policy framework on 'Accessible Elections', for future elections.

The virtual conference was attended by Chief Electoral Officers (CEOs), Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) representing various disabilities and representatives from Government Ministries and institutions.

Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) Sushil Chandra reaffirmed the Election Commission's commitment to make elections more inclusive, accessible, and voter-friendly for PwDs.

Chandra said, "The Commission values the decision-making role of primary stakeholders - the voters including persons with disabilities, who can and should play a key role in the electoral process."

The CEC added that all the meaningful inputs and recommendations suggested by Persons with Disabilities and their representative organisations are taken into consideration while framing guidelines for enhancing inclusivity and accessibility at every step of the electoral process.

Chandra reiterated ECI's commitment to various international resolutions and mandates emphasising the inclusion of persons with disabilities in the electoral process.

The conference emphasised the need for a pleasant and dignified polling experience for PwDs.

Chandra mentioned that all polling stations are on the ground floor equipped with ramps and wheelchairs, adding that sufficient volunteers are deployed at polling stations for a smooth and hassle-free election experience.

Election Commissioner Rajiv Kumar said that the rights of persons with disabilities Act 2016 provides for a legal mandate to ensure all polling stations to be made accessible for persons with disabilities and all material related to the electoral process are easily understandable and usable by them.

Election Commissioner Anup Chandra Pandey emphasised the need for community support systems to be strengthened by ways of advanced data processing, identifying community referral points and creating harmonised echo systems for specific citizens groups such as persons with disabilities and senior citizens.

Secretary-General, Umesh Sinha said that ECI has timely organised this conference when the Commission is preparing for the forthcoming State Assembly Elections. Inputs received from various CEOs, CSOs and ECI icons will be incorporated in the planning and preparation for elections to be more accessible, inclusive and voter-friendly for PwDs and Senior Citizens. (ANI)

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