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SHILLONG: This election, over 800 visually impaired voters in the state will be able to use Braille ballot paper to vote for their choice of candidates.
The Election Department is introducing Braille ballot paper in every polling booth to ensure inclusive election.
Addressing the media on Sunday, CEO Frederick Kharkongor said, “We are making preparations for that. We have already mapped about 4,519 Persons with Disabilities. Steps are being taken to ensure they get maximum priority when it comes to voting.”
The introduction of Braille ballot paper is in line with the Election Commission of India’s vision to make the electoral system more inclusive.
Electronic voting machines already have the Braille feature. The ballot paper pasted on the machine with name and symbol of candidates is Braille enabled.
The state election department has run regular awareness campaigns to encourage youths and persons with disabilities to vote. One of its slogans says, “No Voter To Be Left Behind”.
The Social Welfare Department has issued an order that community resource workers will be placed at polling stations to assist the aged and the differently-abled, he added.
The department has also ensured assistance for the hearing impaired by sending all polling and booth level officials for training in sign language by Meghalaya Deaf Association. It has also introduced Meghalaya Sign Bank app with 114 election terms available on video mode for quick reference.
Apps for citizens
The department is also taking measures to encourage voters to play a crucial role in cleaning up the electoral process.
This will be the first election where voters in Meghalaya can turn whistleblowers by using cVIGIL, an app to keep a tab on violation of the model of code of conduct.
The app for citizens went live on Sunday.
“It will be a tool in the hands of the citizens to upload any violation of the Model Code of Conduct be it money distribution or freebie distribution and other violations will be tracked,” Kharkongor said.
Officials have been trained to handle geo-tagged information coming through the app.
As security measure, vehicles carrying reserve EVMs will have GPS.
On the occasion, Kharkongor reminded urban voters about the queue management software which will enable them to know the status of queue in polling stations. The initiative is to ensure participation of voters since there is urban apathy.
Income tax returns
Kharkongor said candidates will have to file income tax returns for the last five years. “This is a new provision,” he said.
Wherever there are exceptions and exemptions, candidates have to submit their PAN card details.
To tackle the spread of fake news and cyber crime, the Election Commission has made it mandatory for candidates to give their social media accounts.
“The Commission is also very serious about the proliferation of fake news and misleading information on social media so in their nomination papers, candidates will have to give their official social media account, be it Facebook or any other account, so that this can be closely monitored.”
A cyber cell that is headed by the DIG and assisted by an SP-level officer will closely monitor the social media accounts and information posted on the internet.