Making elections accessible in Nagaland

Persons with Disabilities manage polling stations 

Morung Express News
Kohima | February 27

DB’s Club, the venue for Chotobosti Upper Polling Station that falls under 14 Southern Angami Assembly was exclusively manned by five specially abled election personnel. The polling station which has a total of 272 voters had recorded a voting percentage of 85% by early afternoon.

Speaking to The Morung Express, the Polling Officer said, “This is the first time we are on election duty specifically in the category of Persons with Disabilities (PwDs),” while highlighting that the State Government and the ECI have asked them to be a part of the electoral process. The official had earlier been deputed for election duty but not as a Person with Disability.

“The number of voters here is very less but the turnout is very good,” he informed while expressing that “everything was smooth. So far, there have been no hiccups.” On inclusion of the category of PwDs in this regard, he also said, “we are very grateful to the government for making us a part of the greatest democratic process in the country.”

“Government should in fact look forward to more of such kind of participation for all the categories of people even different genders as well”, he added. He stated that through this exercise, the team of five, four of whom were on election duty for the first time, were able to feel a sense of how democracy works practically.

The Polling Officer further expressed hope for more participation of PwDs not only during election but in other activities as well so that “PWDs as such are not looked down or neglected in the coming days also in any other platform by the government.”

The other four personnel were also grateful to be part of this election process. One of them stated: “voters know we are PwDs, so maybe they are also lenient to us and showed us more understanding. Thanks to them!”

In the Polling Station managed by PwDs at Bazar Sector under 53 A/C Tuensang Sadar-I, one of the polling officials stated that it was a first of its kind for them posing a great challenge but however maintained that everything went smoothly and everyone was helpful and supportive to them. 

Meanwhile, the official proposed that in the coming years efforts should be made towards making such polling stations more secure. The other polling station manned by PwDs in the 2023 Nagaland Elections is 35/6-Old Zunheboto.

In this connection, Nagaland State Commissioner for Persons with Disabilities, Diethono Nakhro remarked that “disability inclusion is always a good thing, so, of course, I’m happy that specific steps were taken to make sure that persons with disabilities were included as polling officials.”

Actions such as this, she said, “go a long way in creating more awareness among the people and chipping away at long-held prejudices against people with disabilities.” She expressed appreciation for the Chief Electoral Officer and his team for making sincere efforts to ensure that voters with disabilities were able to participate in the election process and exercise their franchise with ease.

“We have worked with the CEO’s office right from the beginning to safeguard the right of each and every voter with disability. Now that polling is over, we will be reviewing all the measures that were put in place to see what worked, what did not work, and what needs to be done in future,” she underlined.