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  1. 7 downloads

    The focus of Election Commission of India has been to enhance participation, strengthen facilitation, mould public perceptions about the potential of PwDs and include their voice as equal citizens that set the stage for their social and economic integration. Crossing the Barriers: Accessibility Initiatives 2021 takes the reader through the ‘Journey of Accessible Elections’ followed by ‘Ensuring COVID safe and inclusive elections’. through Postal Ballot. The chapters on ‘Guiding Principles’ and ‘Legislative Initiatives’, as also the “Lok Sabha Elections 2019: Good Practices’ highlight multiple layers within the genre of Accessibility, that were explored by the ECI and the stakeholders for a participative and inclusive election. The book also showcases the ‘Accessibility initiatives taken up by states/UTs.. Moreover, the suggestions and recommendations by the Disability Sector and Civil Service Organizations (CSOs)/ NGOs all over India, on making the elections more accessible provide a comprehensive view, The last chapter on ‘way forward’ chalks out the strategy on accessible elections for future.
  2. 564 downloads

    No.ECI/PN/82/2021 Dated: September 21, 2021 PRESS NOTE ECI organizes National Conference on Accessible Elections; Way forward to further streamline policy framework discussed The Election Commission of India today organised a virtual National Conference on Accessible Elections 2021 with the objective to assess the present accessibility policies and discuss strategies for addressing barriers to enhance participation in electoral process for voters with disabilities. The virtual conference was attended by members of National Advisory Committee on Accessible Elections, Chief Electoral Officers, Civil Society Organisations representing various disabilities and representatives from Government Ministries and Institutions. Reaffirming Election Commission’s commitment to make elections more inclusive, accessible, and voter friendly for PwDs, Chief Election Commissioner, Shri Sushil Chandra said that the Commission values the decision making role of primary stakeholders - the voters including persons with disabilities, who can and should play a key role in electoral process. CEC added that all the meaningful inputs and recommendations suggested by Persons with Disabilities and their representative organisations are taken into consideration while framing guidelines for enhancing inclusivity and accessibility at every step of the electoral process. Shri Chandra reiterated ECI’s commitment in various international resolutions and mandates emphasising the inclusion of Persons with Disabilities in the electoral process. He emphasized the need for pleasant and dignified polling experience to PwDs. He mentioned that all polling stations are on ground floor equipped with ramp and wheelchairs, and sufficient volunteers are kept at polling stations for smooth and hassle free election experience. Election Commissioner Shri Rajiv Kumar said that the Rights of Persons with Disabilities Act 2016 provides for a legal mandate to ensure all polling stations to be made accessible for persons with disabilities and all material related to electoral process are easily understandable and usable by them. He added that the collective efforts of election officials and CSO stakeholders have contributed significantly in reaching out to a large number of electors with disabilities across the country, apart from building the electoral process accessible, safe and respectful for different population groups. Election Commissioner Shri Anup Chandra Pandey emphasised on the need for community support systems to be strengthened by ways of advanced data processing, identifying community referral points and creating harmonised echo systems for specific citizens groups such as persons with disabilities and senior citizens. Shri Pandey added that Accessible Elections have always been a thrust area of the Commission, whereby ECI specifically focuses on the inclusion of all target groups, ensuring that everyone has equal access throughout the entire electoral process. Secretary General, Shri Umesh Sinha said that ECI has timely organised this conference when the Commission is preparing for the forthcoming State Assembly Elections. Inputs received from various CEOs, CSOs and ECI Icons will be incorporated in the planning and preparation for elections to be more accessible, inclusive and voter friendly for PwDs and Senior Citizens. It was informed that as on today about 77.4 lakhs PwDs are registered voters. Recognising that a strong and vibrant democracy is founded on the bedrock of inclusion and participation, today’s deliberations focused on themes of Identification/ mapping of PwDs, Accessible Registration, Facilitation at Polling Stations, Efficient use of Technology for Accessible elections, Accessible Voter Education and Leveraging Partnerships & Collaborations and Media Outreach. Significant speakers from different CSOs including Director AADI, Executive Director, National Association of Deaf, Director, SPARC-India, Executive Director, NCPEDP, Executive Director BPA, representatives from ISLRTC & PDUNIPPD, as also ECI National Icon, Dr. Niru Kumar shared valuable inputs for making the election accessible and inclusive. Based on suggestions received from different stakeholders, a resolution was adopted to pave the way forward to further streamline the policy framework on ‘Accessible Elections’, for future elections. Comprehensive monitoring mechanism and Accessibility Assessment of all polling stations; Integration of all mainstream policies & programs for PwDs; training & sensitization of election personnel; increased awareness to improve understanding of disability ; improvised methods of data collection; awareness on postal ballot facility for PwDs; robust IVRS Helpline and online grievance redressal mechanism and deployment of accessibility observers and micro observers to ensure accessibility at all levels of electoral process were some of the the ideas discussed during the virtual conference. During the conference, Chief Election Commissioner Shri Sushil Chandra along with the Election Commissioners Shri Rajiv Kumar & Shri Anup Chandra Pandey released the following; Crossing the Barriers- Accessibility Initiatives 2021. The Booklet is a compilation of innovative practices & accessibility initiatives for facilitating and empowering PwD electors. Braille Language versions of recently launched initiatives like Voter Guide, Letter to the new voter, and a Song Booklet of 50 motivational songs on voter awareness. Sign Language versions of two awareness videos of Voter helpline app and EVM-VVPAT An evaluation study of Outcomes of SVEEP Activities and Facilities provided to PwDs in General Assembly Election 2018 & Lok Sabha Elections 2019 in Karnataka was also released by the Commission. A presentation on accessibility initiatives taken so far by the Election Commission including the learnings & experiences from the recently poll gone states, was also shared with the participants. The Conference had dedicated sign language interpreters to make the conference accessible for PwD participants.
  3. 365 downloads

    ECI/PN/118/2019 Dated: 19th December, 2019 PRESS NOTE Entire process from Enrolment to Elections (E2E) needs to be made more PwD Friendly : CEC Sh Sunil Arora ECI conducts National Workshop on Accessible Elections The Election Commission of India today organized a National Workshop on Accessible Elections. The Workshop was organized with the purpose of reviewing steps taken as yet by ECI for making Elections PwD and Senior Citizens friendly and to deliberate on steps still required to make the process more inclusive and accessible. Chief Election Commissioner Shri Sunil Arora in his keynote address said "while disability is a problem that needs to be addressed more by the individual and the family, Accessibility is a problem that needs more of institutional remedies". Shri Arora said “It is our aim to achieve optimum level of awareness and optimum level of interventions on the ground. From Booth Level Officers to ECI, each and every person must work in tandem. It was in January, 2018 that "Accessible Elections" was decided as the guiding theme for General Elections 2019. "It is essential that we scale up efforts and interventions in a manner that issues of accessibility are removed altogether and our elections are inclusive in the truest sense.” He noted that it is heartening that over that over 90% PWDs have been able to cast their votes in the recently held polling in Jharkhand. "The entire chain of electoral process, E2E i.e. Enrolment to Elections, needs to be PWD friendly & accessible and the entire system from BLOs to ECI HQs needs to be worked to overcome these issues" he emphasized. Reaffirming ECI’s commitment, Election Commissioner Shri Ashok Lavasa stated that while all efforts made by Chief Electoral Officers & DEOs have made ECI come a long way, yet more needs to be done. "We must learn from around the world, find out what lies ahead, and identify concrete steps that will empower us to make adequate changes", he said. Suggesting a three pronged strategy, Sh Lavasa said Benchmarking of data, assessing it against parameters of Accessibility Index, making ECI and CEO websites compliant with prescribed guidelines and continuous evaluation would help us unlock the potential that lies ahead. The Election Commissioner Shri Sushil Chandra lauded the efforts of Civil Society organizations and Election Officials on the field. Sh Chandra emphasized the importance of sensitization towards the electoral rights of Persons with Disabilities. "We need the support of all Civil Society Organisations and concerned NGOs to make PwD voters an integral part of democracy" he added. Speaking on the occasion, Secretary General Shri Umesh Sinha emphasized the need for desired structural changes to address critical gaps and lauded the efforts of Election Machinery, Civil Society Organisations and other stakeholders at the grassroots level. Mr Sinha highlighted the added facility of choice of Postal ballot from home for Octogenarians and PwDs, piloted in recent Jharkhand elections. Deputy Election Commissioner Shri Chandra Bhushan Kumar reiterated the importance of the recommendations received from stakeholders across the country since these would pave the way in making future elections more inclusive. He thanked the Organizations who came to participate in today's workshop and particularly the Accessibility Consultant ECI Ms Smitha Sadasivan for making the deliberations so fruitful. Exhaustive mapping of PwD voters, providing transport facility, special volunteers, Assured Minimum Facilities like ramp, wheelchair, sign language, EVM with Braille at polling station and most recently, the provision of postal ballots to PwD voters are some of the initiatives taken by Election Commission of India to ensure accessibility and uphold the tenet of ‘No Voter to be Left Behind’. Besides Chief Electoral Officers and District Election Officers from various States/UTs, the workshop saw the participation of representatives of Civil Society Organizations, Government Organizations and NGOs representing different disability sectors including AADI, Sarthak Educational Trust, National Association of the Deaf, NCPEDP National Disability Network, Saksham, EcoTatv, NIEPVD, PDUNIPPD, BPA Ahmedabad and ISLRTC. With stakeholders from across India in attendance, the technical sessions involved group tasks and deliberation on four assigned topics such as Electoral Registration & Mapping in the Electoral Roll; Facilitation at Polling Station Specially for Persons with Disabilities and Senior Citizens: Accessible Voter Education & Communication Strategies and Use of Technology in Accessible Elections. The participants worked on evaluating the current challenges, analyzing the in-place initiatives and devising solutions, as part of thematic presentations that were made to the Commission. The Commission also released a booklet, ‘Crossing the Barriers – I Got Inked’ on first-person accounts of voters who overcame all hurdles to participate in the largest festival of democracy. A comprehensive document highlighting the work done so far, recent initiatives, and recommendations from all States/UTs and various stakeholders named "Accessibility Report 2019" was made available to participants of the workshop highlighting therein the policies and guiding principles on Accessible Elections. Sign language interpreters at Workshop today, screen reader access were significant features of day's proceedings.
  4. 385 downloads

    ELECTION COMMISSION OF INDIA NirvachanSadan, Ashoka Road, New Delhi-110001 PRESS NOTE No. ECI/PN/74/2019 Dated: 28thJuly, 2019 Accessible Elections; a successful endeavor of Election Commission of India during Lok Sabha Election 2019 The motto of ‘Accessible Elections’ was one among the many initiatives of Election Commission to make the world’s largest democratic exercise inclusive and participative for all. During this election special focus was given to ensure the participation of Persons with Disabilities. A total of 62,63,701 PwDs were registered within an electorate of 910 million. Facilitation for Persons with Disabilities The electors with disabilities and senior citizens were mapped polling station wise to provide them targeted and need based assistance on the day of poll. During the election all the polling stations were equipped with enough supply of wheelchairs and it was ensured that all polling stations had sturdy ramps for the convenience of PwD electors. All the polling stations in Lok Sabha Election 2019 had a sign language expert, signage and transport facility. To facilitate PwDs during the enrollment process door to door registration drives were carried out, a special mobile application was also developed by the Commission for easy registration. On the day of poll, electors with disabilities could also avail the services like pick up and drop, wheelchairs and special volunteers through this app. Special focus was laid on the sensitization of the polling personnel about the unique needs of the differently abled. For smooth and convenient voting experience the elderly and electors with disability were given priority access in the polling station. Further, they were provided with special volunteers who assisted and guided them at the polling station. Braille signage on Electronic Voting Machine and Electors Photo Identity Card All the EVM that were used in the elections were embossed with Braille signage for the visually impaired voters’ assistance. This election was a witness to many firsts in the domain of accessibility of all; it was the first time EPIC with braille was provided to all the visually impaired electors. Other documents like voters’ slip, voter guide had braille signage too. And lastly for the first time in this election, Accessibility Observers were introduced, who ensured all the polling stations are accessible to the PwDs. Assured Minimum Facilities For the convenience and facilitation of voters, polling stations were equipped with clean drinking water adequate furniture for voters in the queue, shed, and toilets for the voters. Facilities like medical aid with basic supplies were also provided on the day of poll. Proper arrangement of crèche with a trained attendant was also available for children accompanying the electors. More details on Assured Minimum Facilities can be found here https://eci.gov.in/files/file/9456-general-election-to-the-lok-sabha-2019-assured-minimum-facility-in-polling-stations-regarding/ Special initiatives by State CEOs Other than nationwide initiatives states also innovated and enhanced the spirit of accessibility. In mountainous and hilly terrains of Uttarakhand, Himachal, J&K initiative of Divyang Sarathi and Divyang Dolis was rolled out to facilitate PwDs and senior citizens. In Delhi the officials innovated and provided Magnifying Sheets at every polling booth for better facilitation of electors with low vision. As an act of gratitude the Delhi CEO office also felicitated the centenarian voters and provided them with special services on the day of poll, celebrating the voters’ contribution in democracy.
  5. 675 downloads

    ECI/PN/11/2018 Dated 23rd January, 2019 PRESS NOTE Sub: Election Commission of India to host International Conference on ‘Making Our Elections Inclusive and Accessible’ In consonance with the 9th National Voters’ Day to be held on 25th January 2019, Election Commission of India (ECI) is going to host an International Conference on ‘Making Our Elections Inclusive and Accessible’ on 24th January 2019. Besides Chief Election Commissioner Sh. Sunil Arora and Election Commissioner Sh. Ashok Lavasa, Heads and dignitaries from six Election Management Bodies (EMBs) viz. Bangladesh, Bhutan, Kazakhstan, Maldives, Russia & Sri Lanka and three International Organisations viz. Malaysian Commonwealth Studies Centre, U.K and International Institute for Democracy and Electoral Assistance (IDEA) and International Centre for parliamentary Studies (ICPS) will participate in the event. There will be two sessions during the Conference where representatives from the EMBs and International Organisations will participate and share their experiences, best practices and initiatives aimed at electoral engagement, enrolment and active participation in inclusive and accessible voting exercise in various countries. During the Conference another issue of ECI’s quarterly magazine “Voice International” will be released which will carry the theme of “Making polling stations accessible and voter friendly”. On the sidelines of the Conference, ECI will also renew Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) for cooperation in the field of election management with the Election Commission of Bhutan. The MoUs provide for an institutional framework and aim for promotion of exchanges of knowledge and experience in the field of organizational and technical development, with a view to strengthen the administration of electoral processes; exchange of information, material, expertise and technical know-how relating to electoral processes and systems; training of personnel and organizational development and capacity building. Election Commission of India has, so far, signed MOUs with twenty-five Election Management Bodies and International Organizations (viz. Australia, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Brazil, Chile, Fiji, Georgia, Ivory Coast, Guinea, Republic of Korea, Kyrgyz Republic, Libya, Mauritius, Mexico, Moldova, Myanmar, Nepal, Russia, South Africa, Suriname, Yemen and United Nations, Intl. IDEA & IFES). The International Conference is being organised with the purpose of sharing the experience of different EMB’s, International Institutions and Experts with regard to analysis of barriers, policy interventions, strategies, programmes, good practices and technological innovation for inclusive and accessible election. The international delegates will also attend the National Voters’ Day Celebrations in New Delhi besides visiting the new campus of the India International Institute of Democracy and Election Management (IIIDEM) at Dwarka, New Delhi on 25th January 2019.

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ECI Main websiteThe Election Commission of India is an autonomous constitutional authority responsible for administering election processes in India. The body administers elections to the Lok Sabha, Rajya Sabha, State Legislative Assemblies in India, and the offices of the President and Vice President in the country. The Election Commission operates under the authority of Constitution per Article 324, and subsequently enacted Representation of the People Act. 

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