ECI teams reach doorsteps of elderly, PwD voters

Election officials collect postal ballots from elderly people in Udhampur on Monday.
Election officials collect postal ballots from elderly people in Udhampur on Monday.

Officials visit electorates’ residences

Excelsior Correspondent
JAMMU, Apr 15: In a historic first, the facility of voting from home for the elderly and Persons with Disabilities (PwDs) has been provisioned in the 2024 Lok Sabha elections in Jammu and Kashmir.

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“Voters above 85 years of age and Persons with Disabilities (PwDs) with 40 per cent benchmark disability criteria can avail the optional home voting facility and this category has already begun casting their votes for phase I and II of polling”.
This initiative marks a significant stride towards ensuring inclusivity and accessibility of the electoral process besides bolstering democratic participation. Specifically, this facility is being extended to two key demographic groups: Persons with Disabilities (PwDs) meeting the 40 per cent benchmark disability criteria and senior citizens aged above 85 years.
This optional facility underscores the Election Commission of India’s commitment towards ensuring that citizens’ right to vote is not encumbered by physical barriers and disabilities. This upholds the Commission’s motto of ensuring – No voter is left behind, an official statement said.
The procedure to avail this facility is simple yet thorough. Within five days of the election notification, the eligible voters must complete Form 12D and submit it to the returning officer while the PwD voters have to submit a baseline disability certificate with their applications.
The Booth Level Officer (BLO) is responsible for retrieving Form 12D from the elector’s place of residence when the required documentation has been completed. The candidates receive a list of these electors in order to maintain accountability and transparency; if they wish, they can choose a representative to supervise the process.
Following this, a dedicated team of polling officials along with security officials visits the voter’s residence to collect their votes. Crucially, the voters are notified ahead of time of the planned visit, allowing them to be prepared to exercise their right to vote safely and comfortably. To further expedite the procedure and improve accessibility, the voters can also receive notifications via SMS about the days when their home voting facility will be active. The complete process is also being videographed for transparency.
The provision of home voting is a progressive measure aimed at further empowering the voters. It is pertinent to mention here that the process of Home voting has already begun in Udhampur constituency wherein identified voters in the districts of Kathua, Udhampur, Ramban, Doda and Kishtwar have begun casting their votes via postal ballots.
Meanwhile, home voting through postal ballot was successfully conducted in district Udhampur under the guidance of District Election Officer (DEO), Saloni Rai.
With a total of 124 postal ballot votes in the district, only 116 votes were cast with 14 votes in Udhampur West, 4 votes in Udhampur East, 5 votes in Chenani and 51 in Ramnagar besides 5 votes were cast in district jail Udhampur.
The DEO highlighted that the Election Commission of India (ECI) has introduced home voting for the first time in Lok Sabha Election.