Elderly and Disabled Voters Weigh ‘Vote From Home’ Initiative

Indian Women Practicing Voting Rights
Preeti Bali / 1:01 pm / April 5, 2024

Gul Shivadasani, a resident of Delhi, views the Election Commission’s initiative allowing individuals aged 85 and above and those with disabilities exceeding 40 percent to vote from home positively. However, Shivadasani, who values the communal aspect of voting, prefers to cast his ballot at the polling booth, considering it an opportunity for social engagement beyond his household routine.

The Election Commission’s announcement of the ‘Vote From Home’ scheme alongside the Lok Sabha polls schedule garnered appreciation from various quarters. Yet, for Shivadasani and others in his demographic, the allure of the traditional polling booth experience remains strong, citing concerns over potential external influences at home.

Diverse Perspectives on Remote Voting

Shivadasani’s reluctance echoes the sentiments of many elderly and disabled voters, who express a preference for in-person voting. Shabnam Begum, a wheelchair user from Aligarh, underscores the personal significance of physically participating in the electoral process and voices concerns about potential interference with the remote voting option.

While acknowledging the necessity of remote voting for some individuals due to their conditions, activists stress the importance of comprehensive awareness campaigns to ensure inclusivity in electoral participation.

However, not all share Shivadasani’s apprehensions. Feroza Jahan, a 90-year-old resident of Noida, eagerly anticipates the opportunity to vote remotely after decades of being unable to do so due to paralysis.

Implementation Challenges and Demographic Insights

Chief Election Commissioner Rajiv Kumar highlights the accessibility aspect of the ‘Vote From Home’ scheme, aiming to accommodate the preferences of elderly and disabled citizens. Dr Satendra Singh, a disability rights activist, outlines the operational details, emphasizing the need for timely response from eligible voters to ensure their participation.

Himanshu Raha, from the Agewell Foundation, discusses the challenges in tracking the demographic data of elderly and disabled populations, emphasizing the necessity of proactive measures to facilitate their engagement in the electoral process.

As India prepares for the Lok Sabha polls in April, the ‘Vote From Home’ initiative reflects a concerted effort by the Election Commission to enhance inclusivity in the electoral process, catering to the diverse needs and preferences of its citizens.

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