Enabling the differently-abled to vote

Voting applications for handicapped people will be issued from tomorrow, Monday (19) by the respective grama niladaris.

According to Elections Commissioner Mahinda Deshapriya, there is no due date for the submission of these applications, and they could even be submitted on election day. A medical certificate from a registered medical practitioner, certifying the disability of the handicapped voter, is necessary to collect the applications from the grama niladaris.

Handicapped voters are permitted to be escorted by adults above 18-years of age, who are themselves not subject to any disability, are not candidates at the election, or authorised agents of a political party, or polling agents, to aid the handicapped voter cast his/her vote, Mr. Deshapriya said.

"We also have sufficient staff at polling stations to assist the 'escort' and the disabled person to cast his/her vote," he said. To vote, the handicapped person should have in his/her possession, the voting application duly endorsed by the grama niladari, the medical certificate as mentioned above and his/her National Identity Card (NIC) or any other duly authorised valid form of identification. His/her 'escort', while conforming to the aforementioned criteria, must also be in possession of his/her NIC or any other duly authorised valid form of identification.

A specimen of the Certificate of Disability can be obtained by visiting the website of the Department of Election. The staff at the polling station will, after ascertaining the identity of the voter, go through the usual procedure and issue a ballot paper to the voter. The voter will be directed to the Senior Presiding Officer (SPO) along with the 'escort'.

The SPO will take over the voter's certificate of disability and obtain a written statement from the 'escort'. Subsequently, the voter, his/her 'escort' and a staff member of the polling station will proceed to the voting cubicle. There, in the presence of the SPO and the staff member the ballot paper will be marked.
No handicapped voter can go to a polling station without an 'escort'.

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