Mumbai: In a bid to make the polling process convenient for female voters, temporary creches for children were set up for the first time in some Assembly segments, an official said Monday.
As several female voters have no option but to carry their children along with them to the polling booths, the Election Commission came up with this initiative, the official said.
“The experiment was carried out for the first time during the Lok Sabha elections held earlier this year and now, the EC has replicated the same concept in the Maharashtra polls,” the official said.
“This is the first time that the EC has come up with such a facility for female voters, who can now keep their children at the creche for a brief period and exercise their franchise,” he added.
The initiative was taken after the EC observed how voters travelled to the polling stations and how much average time they spent at the booths, he said.
Most of the urban woman voters were found carrying their children along with them to the booths, he said.
“Since rules prohibit taking children inside the voting room, the EC came up with the concept of setting up temporary creches, having a dedicated anganwadi worker and equipped with some toys for kids to play,” he said. The anganwadi workers are employees of the government- run women and child care centres.
Additionally, around 12 hydraulic vans specially designed for pick up-and-drop services for specially-abled people were made available, considering there were 3,085 specially-abled voters from Colaba to Sion.
Mumbai city collector Shivaji Jondhale said that special vehicles were arranged for handicapped persons while separate childcare rooms were set up for women who came along with their kids to the voting centres.
“This time, for handicapped people, we arranged pick up-and-drop facility. Special friendly vehicles were arranged for them. They were brought to the voting centres and dropped back home. We got a total 921 requests for it this year,” Mr Jondhale said.
All said, exercising their franchise wasn’t easy for people with specific needs. Despite being registered voters, the lack of inclusive transport facilities, long queues and untrained polling staff and service providers made it difficult for some differently-abled voters to exercise their franchise, especially those without family, institutional support or high finance to depend on.