Ensuring voting rights for all: differently-abled individuals participate in symbolic election at the Different Art Centre

14 August, 2023

In a notable demonstration of inclusivity and democratic engagement, the Different Art Centre orchestrated a symbolic election, underscoring the significance of voting rights for differently-abled individuals. The event showcased enthusiasm and empowerment as these children exercised their right to vote for the very first time. Over three hundred participants, each with varying disabilities, emerged from the polling booth adorned with smiles of accomplishment, having cast their votes using electronic voting machines, with indelible ink marking their index fingers.

Empowering First-Time Voters: A Model Democratic Exercise

This distinctive model democratic election, held in collaboration with the State Chief Electoral Officer's office, reverberated with the essence of democracy, as differently-abled citizens assumed the role of first-time voters. This initiative aimed to both enlighten the differently-abled community about the significance of electoral participation and familiarize them with the voting process. The election encompassed the selection of a President and Prime Minister, meticulously adhering to all established norms while preserving the solemnity of the occasion.

Each participant approached the polling booth equipped with their voter's slip, dutifully signed the register under the guidance of the presiding officer and proceeded to mark their index finger with indelible ink—a tangible testament to their exercise of democratic agency. The event featured differently-abled children, Amrita S, Lisan, and Amal B, who contributed as booth agents, Ms Bindu, Ms Gopika, and Mr Karthik – the esteemed teachers from the Centre who served as the polling officers while Ms Marykutty assumed the role of presiding officer. For those facing physical challenges in voting, proxy voting was offered as an accommodating alternative.

The election presented a spirited contest between the differently abled children, where Deepak Benny, Arunima PS, and Aparna Suresh were the nominees for the Presidential post, while Hasna N, Abhinand A, and Abhiraj S, contended for the Prime Ministerial role. The Empower Democracy Party, Progressive Vision League Party, and Ability Achievers Congress Party contested under the symbols of a kite, star, and butterfly respectively. The campaign period, spanning two weeks, showcased candidate demonstrations, compelling campaigns, and vibrant flag-bearing ceremonies—mirroring the genuine fervour of actual elections.

The inauguration of this historic awareness program was graced by Additional Chief Electoral Officer - Ms Sharmila C, who expressed her pride in orchestrating an election that stands as a shining testament to inclusivity and civic responsibility. Deputy Tehsildar Mr K M Jayan presided over the ceremony, accompanied by Mr Anoop M R - State Level Master Trainer, Mr Gopinath Muthukad - Executive Director of Different Art Centre, and Mr Sunil Raj C K - Manager.

The event included an enlightening election awareness session conducted by Mr Anoop M R, complemented by the active participation of senior officials from the Collectorate and Electoral Office, who administered the voting process. The outcome of this effort became evident when the results were announced on Friday, August 11, 2023. During this announcement, Abhiraj S was elected as the Prime Minister, while Aparna Suresh secured the position of President. Notably, the elected representatives will be honoured as esteemed chief guests during the Independence Day celebrations at the Different Art Centre, adding an extra layer of significance to India's commemoration of its hard-won freedom.

As society continues to progress towards greater inclusivity and representation, initiatives such as these remind us that democracy's promise must extend to all corners of our diverse population, fostering a more equitable and empowered future.