Differently abled struggle

Differently abled struggle

Several people with disabilities cast their vote in the city on Saturday. While some were helped by the officers at the booths, others said they had a bitter experience with little help.

Missing wheelchairs, having to take support from other voters to climb stairs and a slow-moving queue were some of the complaints the voters spoke about.

When 93-year-old Venkatamma came to the polling booth at Lawrence School in HSR Layout, she had to walk to the EVM with the help of other voters as she was not provided with a wheelchair.

"I feel it's important to vote. I am not sure if I will be alive to vote in the next elections," the nonagenarian told DH.

She added that the voting process was very tiresome and was expecting a wheelchair after voting. But there were none.

Venkatamma came to the booth with a walking stick accompanied by her daughter Padmini, who could not vote as she had to bring her mother to the booth.

Gururaj J R, 43, a senior assistant in the secretariat, has never given up an opportunity to vote.

"It is my duty. If we do not vote, we should not complain," he said.

Despite the physical disability, he has been voting for several years now. Gururaj cast his vote from Srirampura Sarvodaya Degree Evening College.

Separate queues and assistance for the differently abled and senior citizens, sturdy ramps, wheelchairs, Braille listings for all voting machines, railings and overall accessibility were a few things that were promised.

The visually challenged had their own issues.

Ravi Kumar, 23, a first-time voter, had no assistance.

"The machines had no Braille. And there was no one to help me either. So I had to call my relative to guide me through the process," he said.

Satish M, 40, said: "My polling station (Chamundeshwari constituency) had no Braille stickers on the Electronic Voting Machines. And to make matters worse, there was no one to assist me either."

Raj Lakshmi, Miss Wheelchair India 2014 said: "There was a movable ramp on my way out, but it was nowhere in sight on my way in, and they had to carry me in. And the ramp was steep, making the experience quite unpleasant. There were a few ignorant officers who were unwilling to extend assistance. But this time it was better compared to the previous elections."

"This presiding officer denied a partially blind and physically handicapped sister of mine from casting her vote. She asked for assistance at the booth, he refused and was rude. This happened in booth no 268, Kengeri Satellite Town (Yeshwanthpur constituency)," wrote Joseph Hoovers on Facebook.

He hopes to take the issue to the court.