The number of people eligible to vote in Lok Sabha polls beginning next month has increased by 8.4 crore as compared to 2014 general election, and these include 1.5 crore “young voters” who are in the 18-19 age group and would exercise their franchise first time, according to the Election Commission.
The total electorate in the country this year has increased to approximately 90 crore compared to 81.5 crore in 2014. “This marks an increase of more than 8.4 crore electors,” the Commission said. Over 1.5 crore voters are in the age group of 18-19 years. These “young voters” constitute 1.66 per cent of the total electors.
The poll panel had allowed enrolment of “transgender persons” with gender mentioned as “Others” in the electoral rolls since 2012. The number of voters enrolled in this category is 38,325. The panel will set up nearly 10.35 lakh polling stations in the country, as compared to nearly 9.28 lakh set up during 2014 polls. This marks an increase of 10.1%. “The increase is largely due to rationalisation of polling stations, which the Commission undertook in the recent years,” the EC said.
Nearly 39.6 lakh electronic voting machines and 17.4 lakh paper trail or voter verifiable paper trail machines would be used in these polling stations. These include reserves. One control unit and at least one ballot unit where buttons are placed constitutes EVM. This time, the visually impaired and blind voters will be provided with braille voter slips to cast their vote.
Braille is a script with raised dots that can be read with fingers by people who are blind or who have low vision. It is a tactile reading and writing system used by blind and visually impaired people who cannot access print material. As part of its strategy framework for ‘accessible elections’, the Commission has told all chief electoral officers to issue accessible photo voter slips with braille to voters who are visually impaired or blind. The braille enabled slips were used in recently held assembly elections too.
Electronic voting machines already have the braille feature. The ballot paper pasted on the machine with name and symbol of candidates is braille-enabled. The Election Commission also plans to provide braille election photo identity cards to visually challenged voters across the country.
Lok Sabha elections will begin on April 11 and continue for over a month till May 19 across seven phases. The counting of votes will be held on May 23, the Election Commission announced Sunday, kick-starting a mega electoral battle.