It was an unusual sight on Tuesday morning at Government Higher Secondary School, Kottampatti in Melur constituency, as an elderly woman entered the polling booth on a push cart. Two school boys were seen pushing the broken cart on which P. Ramuthai, a 70-year-old differently-abled woman, travelled so that she could exercise her right to vote.
Ms. Ramuthai, a Scheduled Caste resident of Kottampatti, said that she had never failed to vote in the past elections. During every elections, Ms. Ramuthai and her father used to travel together to exercise their right to vote. “But, this time my father fell sick and he couldn’t come to vote,”she said. This time, Ms. Ramuthai hired a broken push cart for a rent of Rs. 20 per hour.
However, Ms. Ramuthai faced severe inconvenience once she reached the polling booth due to the absence of a wheelchair there. The rules of the Election Commission of India mandate that every polling station must have a wheel chair and a volunteer to help the elderly and differently-abled persons. However, this booth neither had a wheelchair nor a volunteer for the elderly.
With great difficulty, Ms. Ramuthai travelled on the broken push cart to climb a ramp to enter the booth. She then had to crawl to get her indelible ink and voted with the help of the presiding officer.
“In spite of of these difficulties, I was happy that I could vote,” she said. After casting her vote, Ms. Ramuthai travelled home on the broken push cart.
An official present at the polling station said that no wheelchairs were provided for nearly six polling booths that were located inside the school.
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