In the recently concluded local level elections, Laxman Subedi, chairperson of the Kaski Association of the Blind could not exercise his voting right the way he wanted. He had reached the polling center along with his reliable friend but the election officers didn’t allow his friend to accompany him to the booth. As the election officers said that only family members could accompany him to the polling booth, Subedi had to cast his ballot with the help of one of the election officer. Though he took part in the elections, he is still doubtful whether his vote went to his favored candidate. “Maybe the election officer cast my vote to the candidate of his choice? I am still not confident,” he said.
Subedi says that many disabled people had to struggle a lot to cast their votes. “Though the infrastructures of some polling centers were easily accessible they still are not suitable for the visually impaired and deaf voters,” he said. He opined that not even a voter’s own family members could be trusted when it comes to voting because all family members do not necessarily have same political ideologies. “This is why disabled voters should be allowed to go with the person of their choice,” he said.
Fanindra Poudel, advisor to Srijanshil Apanga Samaj, an organization working for the welfare of the disabled, claims that none of the polling centers in the rural parts of the district is disable-friendly. “Only the voting booths based in cities and market areas are accessible but the rest is extremely difficult especially for the disabled and elderly people,” Poudel said.