voting
Special facilities at polling booths for differently abled, old electors in 2016 assembly elections. Picture: A woman casts her vote inside a polling booth during the state assembly election in New Delhi Feb. 7, 2015.Reuters

The Election Commission of India has taken several measures to ease the process of polling for the special categories of electors, including pregnant women, differently-abled persons, patients with leprosy and people from other "weaker sections" in the upcoming assembly elections in Assam, West Bengal, Tamil Nadu, Kerala and Puducherry. 

The measures have been taken "in terms of ease, comfort and facilitation" of the electors from "weaker sections" to ensure that they "would not have to go to an area where they might be prevented from voting," according to a press release

While separate arrangements will be made at polling stations for pregnant women and differently-abled people, special polling booths will be set up in constituencies where a leprosy sanatorium is located, irrespective of the population of such electors.

"In case of a leprosy sanatorium being located within the constituency, a separate polling station is to be set up exclusively for the inmates .The officers, medical and others, working in the sanatorium to be appointed as presiding and polling officers" of these polling booths.

Separate polling stations will be set up for men and women in areas where "women folk feel inhibited in mingling with male members due to social practice or custom." There would be lady officer for identification of voters at polling stations with "large number of 'pardanashin' women electors." 

Additionally, special arrangements will be made for old, infirm persons and pregnant women at all polling booths. Differently-abled electors will not have to wait in the queue to vote.

"Facilities in the form of wheelchairs inside the polling stations,temporary ramps where permanent ramps are not provided. Electors with speech and hearing impairment would be given special care... Further use of signage, parking spaces, adequate space in polling booths etc to be ensured for the differently-abled," the press release stated. 

The election commission has taken the measures to ensure all electors exercise their voting rights in a "free, fair and conducive environment."

The assembly elections will start in April in West Bengal, where it will be held in six phases, and Assam, where people will vote in two phases. Voting in Tamil Nadu, Kerala and Puducherry will be held May 16. The results for the polls will be announce May 19.

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