Berhampur, April 18 (LocalWire): Dummy Braille ballots were sent to only 1060 booths in the district while election was held in 1946 booths in eight Assembly segments in the district during the second phase of polls today. And in the booths where these ballots reached, there were no instructors to help the visually-impaired with the Braille letters.
Several visually-challenged people in Ganjam district, therefore, had to exercise their franchise with the help of escorts.
‘We demanded Braille ballots so that we could cast our votes without any escort. But the presiding officer failed to supply those. Like previous elections, we had to vote with the help of escorts,’ said Pitabash Das, a visually impaired person.
He and his wife Jaya Shree Mamata Sahu, also visual impaired, exercised their franchise at booth no 144 at Pratapur in Khallikote (SC) Assembly constituency.
Similarly, Santosh Swain of Lathipada village in Sorada Assembly segment, who is also totally blind, cast his vote through an escort.
‘I could not follow the Braille ballot which they supplied. The dummy ballot only has a serial number without any symbol or names. So, I preferred to exercise my franchise through an escort,’ Swain, a primary school teacher, said.
Panchanan Nahak, a primary school teacher exercised his vote for the first time independently with the use of Braille ballot.
‘I could not get the Braille ballot from the presiding officer when I demanded the same at booth no 238 at Khallingi in Sanakhemundi Assembly segment. But after I complained, Collector Vijay Amrut Kulange intervened and the sector officer brought the Braille ballot,’ said Nahak.
‘After waiting for about two hours, I exercised my franchise for the first time independently,’ said a happy Nahak.
K Khetrabasi, a 70% visual impaired person, who cast his vote at booth no 179 at Dayapalli in Hinjili segment also expressed displeasure due to lack of Braille ballot in the booth.
‘Odisha Associations for Blinds had apprised the chief election officer that visual impaired people were deprived from getting Braille ballot facilities during the first phase of polling on 11 April.
Despite that, the same was not rectified in several booths in the district,’ said Khetrabashi, an official of the association.