General Elections 2024: Home voting for eligible voters extended pan India for the first time

General Elections 2024: Home voting for eligible voters extended pan India for the first time

Election Commission of India has introduced home voting for senior citizens and Persons with Disabilities in the 2024 General Elections. This initiative aims to enhance inclusivity and accessibility in the voting process.

Home voting introduced for senior citizens above 85 years and PwDs with 40% benchmark disability Home voting introduced for senior citizens above 85 years and PwDs with 40% benchmark disability

The Election Commission of India has taken massive strides in ensuring inclusivity and accessibility in the General Elections 2024 to ensure that no eligible voter is deprived of their right to vote on account of physical or other barriers. So far, after the conclusion of 6 phases of elections, immense enthusiasm was seen amongst voters of various sections such as Persons with Disabilities, Senior Citizens, Transgenders, and PVTGs. Facility for voting from the comfort of home for senior citizens above 85 years of age and PwDs with 40% benchmark disability was extended for the first time on pan India basis in General Elections 2024.

The optional home voting facility marks a paradigm shift in the electoral process and has been made available for the first time in the history of India’s general elections. Any eligible citizen aged 85 and above or with 40% benchmarked disability, can avail of the provision of a home voting facility through postal ballot in these elections. This facility has received an enthusiastic response from voters. Gratifying scenes of smiling voters and their testimonials voting from the comfort of their homes have flooded social media from all parts of the country. Voting from home takes place with the involvement of a full contingent of polling staff and security personnel with the secrecy of voting diligently maintained. Agents of candidates are also allowed to accompany polling teams to witness the process.

The concerted efforts, throughout the country under the leadership of Chief Election Commissioner Shri Rajiv Kumar along with Election Commissioners Shri Gyanesh Kumar and Dr Sukhbir Singh Sandhu have seen many success stories from the States/UTs where election has been completed till Phase 6 of the Lok Sabha Election - 2024. CEC Rajiv Kumar said “It has been the deep-founded resolve of the Commission to strive for continuous improvement in the electoral processes setting new standards globally. ECI is determined to make the elections truly reflective of the spirit of plurality and diversity that is the pride of our country. ECI is dedicated to incorporating and deeply integrating the principles and practices of inclusivity and accessibility throughout the entire election process, setting an example before the society for replication everywhere.”

The preparations started two years back with concerted efforts of updation and registration of eligible citizens in the electoral rolls. This was achieved by conducting special registration drives, and camps, targeting these categories of voters. ECI has adopted a multipronged strategy to enhance participation amongst communities which are prone to be deprived of their right to vote.

To bridge any infrastructural gaps, ECI ensured that every polling booth is on the ground floor, equipped with assured amenities including ramps, signages for voters, parking space, separate queues, and volunteers. Additionally, ECI’s SAKSHAM app has facilitated PwDs for availing various facilities at polling station like wheelchairs, pick-and-drop and volunteers services. There have been over 1.78 lakh downloads of the Saksham App since announcement of elections.

The Commission has also made provisions for Braille on EVMs, Braille enabled EPIC, and voter slips to assist visually impaired electors. Further, a Voter Guide for PwDs and Sr. Citizens, in English and Hindi, with information on the process of registration to poll day facilitation was made available.

Apart from eradicating physical barriers to voting, ECI also made efforts to address social barriers and stigma surrounding certain vulnerable populations like Transgenders, Sex workers, PVTGs to ensure their participation in election process. Special camps were arranged to enroll the third gender (TG) electors and other marginalized communities like sex workers and PVTGs by Thane District in collaboration with civil society. Over 48,260 TGs are enrolled all over the county, out of which Tamil Nadu has the highest number of third gender electors with 8467, followed by 6628 TGs in Uttar Pradesh and 5720 TGs in Maharashtra.

As part of SVEEP initiatives, Commission organized a T-20 Cricket Match on 16th March, 2024 between the IDCA (Indian Deaf Cricket Association) and DDCA (Delhi District Cricket Association) teams to create voter awareness among PwD electors and promote inclusive elections.

Efforts were made to the extent possible by the Commission, to set up at least one polling station in each AC, managed exclusively by PwD officials. For Lok Sabha Election -2024, approximately 2697 PwD managed Polling Stations have been set up across the country, with Uttar Pradesh setting up the highest PwD Manned Polling Stations i.e. 302.

The homeless and other nomadic groups are another critical demographic in achieving high electoral participation. Due to their unique circumstances, these individuals can experience unintentional electoral exclusion because of lack of proof of residency.  However, special efforts were made in the last two years for their enrolment as voters and also participation in the voting process. Location of new polling booths in previously inaccessible areas has led to the large-scale inclusion of PVTGs. In many States/UTs, where PVTGs reside in large numbers, free transportation facilities have been provided for enabling the PVTGs reach polling stations from remote areas. In a historic move, the Shompen tribe of Great Nicobar voted in the Lok Sabha Election -2024 for the first time.

Edited By: Puja Mahanta
Published On: May 29, 2024