Despite having the option to vote through postal ballot, such was the enthusiasm among Divyang voters in Himachal Pradesh that 89% of them chose to exercise their franchise at polling booths on November 12.
Himachal Pradesh chief electoral officer (CEO) Manish Garg said that according to instructions of the Election Commission of India, the state election department had ensured provision of all facilities for voters with disabilities, including providing them Form 12-D and postal ballots. However, he said, their participation was beyond expectation as of the 56,343 persons with disabilities (PwD) eligible to vote, 49,917 voted at polling booths.
Garg said that 6,882 of the voters with more than 40% disability opted for postal ballot. Of them, 6,426 voted from their homes, while some of them chose to vote from polling booths.
One such voter, Pawan Kumar, 34, a resident of Bajan village in Arki assembly constituency, said that he was proud to participate by visiting the polling booth to cast his vote. A computer teacher at a private school at Mangu in Solan district, Kumar said: “The election department had made arrangements, but I chose to vote at the booth. I wanted to motivate other voters and spread the message that where there is a will there is a way.”
Om Prakash, 50, a native of Ser-Bharaal village of Baag Pashog panchayat in Pachhad assembly constituency, who is bedridden for the past eight years, voted through postal ballot after 11 years. He said due to the EC’s new initiative, he had voted for the first time in a decade.
Form-12D was issued for voters above 80 years, people with disabilities and those from essential services. It yielded encouraging results as 98.5% of the postal ballots have been received.