TIRUCHY: With close to 200 visually challenged voters in the Gandhi Nagar polling booth in Manikandam, a lack of volunteers to escort them to cast their votes created a ruckus. Meanwhile, defying their age, several nonagenarians showed up at their respective polling booths in the early hours to cast their votes.
Tension prevailed in the Gandhi Nagar polling booth, set up especially for visually challenged voters, as voters had to use the same escorts over and over again. According to an election official, the guidelines state each visually challenged voter has to file an escort form with details of the person who would aid them in casting their votes. An escort can help only one person.
There are 200 visually challenged voters in an area which has a population of less then 500 people. It was hard for them to find a volunteer who could help them cast their votes. Also, the filing and processing of an escort form can be time-consuming. Members of the local welfare association pressed the election officer to relax the norms and ended up in an argument with them. Later, voters were allowed to bring the same escorts to cast their votes.
“As most of residents here left for work after voting, hardly one or two youngsters were available in the village. We had to rely on them to cast our votes. After explaining the situation to election officials, they allowed us to vote with the same escorts,” said S Kupuswami, a visually challenged voter.
Sahayamary, another visually challenged voter from MGR Nagar, stated it would be helpful to visually challenged voters if the Election Commission could print at least the symbol or the candidate’s name on a ballot paper in Braille, so voters can ensure their votes have gone to the person or party of their choice.
Appusamy (95) of Sethurapatti village in Manikandam union with the help of a wheelchair voted by 7.15 am.