SEC issues guidelines for accessible voting on poll day

Kohima, June 25 (MExN): The Nagaland State Election Commission has released a set of instructions aimed at facilitating voting for persons with disabilities (PwDs) and senior citizens during the upcoming municipal elections. The guidelines, directed to the Returning Officers of all poll-bound municipalities, emphasize the need for special provisions to ensure these electors can vote with ease and dignity.

Wonchio Odyuo, Secretary of the State Election Commission, highlighted the importance of these measures, stating, “In line with Rule 57 of the Nagaland Municipal Election Rules 2023, the Presiding Officer shall permit blind and infirm electors to be accompanied by a companion of not less than 18 years of age. This companion can assist in recording the vote on the ballot paper and, if necessary, folding the ballot paper to conceal the vote before inserting it into the ballot box.”

The Commission also underscored the need for additional support for other vulnerable groups. “Electors who are persons with disabilities, senior electors aged 75 years and above, and women electors with babies shall be given preference and precedence over other voters in the queue,” Odyuo added.

To further facilitate the movement of these electors, the Commission has emphasised the importance of ramp facilities in polling stations for those on wheelchairs. Where required and feasible, the returning officers are encouraged to coordinate with the Social Welfare Department for the temporary provisioning of wheelchairs.

Additionally, the Commission has called for the sensitization of polling and security personnel to ensure they show special empathy and care towards the needs of voters with disabilities and other vulnerable electors.

Odyuo emphasised that necessary actions should be taken on a priority basis to implement these directives. The aim is to ensure a smooth and accessible voting process for all electors, regardless of physical challenges.