Goalpara emerges as PwD voter-friendly constituency in Assam
The Goalpara district of Assam has emerged as one of the most welcoming constituencies for person-with-disability (PwD) voters in the recently concluded Lok Sabha (LS) elections in Assam.
The four assembly segments of the district including Dudhnoi, Goalpara East, Goalpara West and Jaleswar, have recorded an average of 83.5% PwD voter turnout in the 2019 LS elections.
Among those constituencies, Dudhnoi registered the highest PwD voter turnout with 87%, followed by Goalpara West with 87%, Goalpara East with 84% and Jaleswar with 75%.
Regarding the high turnout of PwD voters, District Election Officer and Deputy Commissioner of Goalpara, Varnali Deka told G Plus, “The Chief Election Officer (CEO) Assam has taken lots of initiatives for the PwD voters. In our place, we had executed a plan wherein all PwD voters were mapped with the help of social welfare department.
“We made a travel plan for each of them. We had engaged poll volunteers at the polling booths where PwD voters were there to ensure that the voters could comfortably vote.”
Deka also said that Braille ballot sheets were provided to the polling booths and provisions of wheelchair were made for the persons with locomotor disability.
At some booths in Goalpara, magnifying glasses were also provided to the voters who required them.
In addition, the district administration made necessary seating arrangements for PwD voters at all the four model polling stations in Goalpara.
Regarding the photo that went viral across various media platforms where Deka was seen escorting a PwD voter sitting on a wheelchair to a polling booth, the young bureaucrat said, “Since morning, I was working in the field, looking after the mock poll and everything, and then I came to know that there was a young PwD voter in Beltola area in Goalpara district who wanted to vote.
“As I was near Beltola at that time, I decided to go to the area and picked her up. I even had a nice conversation with the voter, who was in her 20s maybe, on our way back to the booth.
“I was also happy to help another PwD voter in Dudhnoi who was a first time voter.”
In the recently concluded LS elections, Goalpara district had a pooling booth exclusively manned by PwD voters, reportedly becoming the first booth of its kind in Assam.
At some places, the district administration felicitated the PwD voters with bags of goodies, snacks, gamochas etc.
Furthermore, Deka believed that a multitude of factors worked behind the high rate of women voter turnout in her area of jurisdiction, apart from the fact that the area is run by a woman officer.
“Awareness amongst the female voters is growing, not only in Goalpara but across the country.
“Irrespective of the gender, voters in general have also become more aware of that fact that it is their right and duty to come out and vote.”
In the 2019 LS elections, a total of 90.44% women cast their votes in the Dhubri LS constituency that covers parts of Goalpara district.