Ranchi, Apr 14 (PTI) Special measures such as voting from home, free transportation to polling stations, installation of ramps, provision of wheelchairs, and use of Braille-enabled electronic voting machines (EVMs) are being implemented to facilitate voting for over 6.82 lakh electors aged above 80 years and those with disabilities in Jharkhand, an election official said on Sunday.

The Lok Sabha elections in Jharkhand for the 14 seats will be held in four phases — on May 13, May 20, May 25 and June 1.

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With more than 2.55 crore eligible voters, including 1.25 crore women, the state is gearing up for a mega electoral exercise.

Among eligible voters, around 3.22 lakh are above 80 years old, while nearly 3.60 lakh have disabilities. This includes around 63,000 visually impaired voters and 45,000 with speech and hearing impairments. Additionally, there are approximately 1.39 lakh electors above 85 years old.

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To ensure accessibility and convenience for all voters, the Chief Electoral Officer (CEO) of Jharkhand, K Ravi Kumar, has taken several initiatives under the motto "no voter to be left behind."

These initiatives include providing pick and drop facilities for elderly and disabled voters, with a dedicated vehicle at each polling station. Booth level officers (BLOs) are compiling lists of voters who require assistance to vote at their doorstep.

"Persons with disabilities and elderly voters above 80 years can avail the pick and drop facility as per their wish. A vehicle at each polling station is being arranged for the purpose. The booth level officers (BLOs) are compiling list of voters who want to exercise polling at doorstep," Kumar told PTI.

An application called Saksham has been designed by the Election Commission to facilitate requests for pick and drop services and other facilities on polling day.

"The application also has the feature to register requests for wheelchair or other facilities on the polling day," he said.

Furthermore, all EVMs in Jharkhand are equipped with Braille facilities, enabling visually impaired voters to identify their preferred party symbols easily.

"Braille is inbuilt in the ballot units this time. This facility is enabled in all M3 electronic voting machines in Jharkhand. Earlier, there were M2 machines in which we had to paste Braille stickers," he said.

All polling stations are situated on ground floor and ramps are being ensured in all booths. "Till now, ramps have been set up in 98 per cent polling booths across the state," he added.

With 29,521 polling stations set up across the state, separate queues will be designated for differently abled voters and senior citizens to minimise waiting times.

The initiatives have been welcomed by organisations representing physically challenged people, such as the Jharkhand Viklang Manch (JVM), who hope to see increased participation of persons with disabilities (PwD) in the Lok Sabha polls.

JVM chief Arun Singh told PTI, "Several initiatives have been taken for people with disabilities. We welcome it and are hopeful that a large number of people with disabilities will exercise their franchise in the polls."

He said that the number of electors with disabilities in Jharkhand is above 3.5 lakh.

"People with more than 40 per cent disabilities have been offered facilities to cast their votes from home. I appreciate the move. But, I would like to request the PwD voters that if they can, they should cast their votes at polling stations. It will not only show the participation of PwD voters, but will also encourage others to cast votes," Singh said.

(This is an unedited and auto-generated story from Syndicated News feed, LatestLY Staff may not have modified or edited the content body)