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EVMs to help visually impaired vote

By Mukhtar Ahmad in Srinagar
March 18, 2009 20:50 IST
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For the first time all the Electronic Voting Machines have been enabled to facilitate visually-impaired voters to exercise their franchise without any assistance.

Chief electoral officer for Jammu and Kashmir, B.R.Sharma said that Deonar School of Blind in Mumbai has been approached for preparing a Braille-enabled list of contesting candidates which will be loaded on the EVMs to enable visually-challenged persons to cast their votes.

The parliamentary elections in Jammu and Kashmir will be held in five phases beginning April 16 when the Jammu constituency will go to polls.

The other five constituencies that will be going to polls include Udhampur on April 23, Anantnag on April 30, Srinagar on May 7 and Baramulla and Ladakh parliamentary constituencies on May 13.

As many as 65,11,638 voters are eligible to vote in the state.

Sharma said the security in state during the polls would be tight as it was in the assembly elections held recently and added that central police forces would be deployed in required numbers, keeping in view the sensitivity of the polling stations.

"The election department is undertaking vulnerability mapping of the entire state to assess the requirement of security forces for conducting elections in a smooth and hassle-free manner," Sharma added.

Sharma said that nearly 40,000 government employees have been drawn from various departments for poll-related duties in the state, adding that most of them were already on duty in the recently-held assembly polls.

"Around 9,077 polling stations will be set up with each having about 4-5 polling employees. The poll staff is already trained. However, refresher training courses would be conducted so that they are acquainted with fresh Election Commission guidelines and the Model Code of Conduct," Sharma said, adding that election department has geared up machinery to put transport and communication links in place for smooth conduct of polls.  

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Mukhtar Ahmad in Srinagar