This refers to KBG’s Abracadabra on May 9 and reports with pictures on May 10 in Star of Mysore, giving encomiums to the Election Commission (EC) on several new steps taken to attract the voters. The EC rightfully deserves them for what has been done.
Yet a number of deficiencies also need to be pointed for further improvement in future. I wish to share my experience and result of discussions with friends who have performed duties as Presiding Officers at polling booths in the past.
1. I cast my vote at Nirmala Convent School, V.V. Mohalla early in the morning. There were many senior citizens, both men and women, standing in the queue and were desiring to sit awaiting their turn. But there were only a few chairs for the two booths together.
2. The windows of the rooms in which the booths were set up were very dirty.
3. Lighting facility at the EVMs was poor which reduced the visibility of the names and party symbols of the candidates.
4. There was no notice to educate the voters regarding the need to wait for 7 seconds after pressing the EVM button to be able to see the symbol light on and the VVPAT to show one’s choice recorded correctly.
5. The much needed (for seniors) sign board showing way to rest rooms (toilets) was absent. When I went in search of the rest room for gents, I found it locked and bereft of water from the closets. I urged the security person to put up a sign board or chalk mark on the wall.
6. I also could not find any drinking water facility near the rooms at which we were waiting. May be it was available somewhere else.
7. Upon discussing these issues with a few friends, senior and retired and who had discharged the function of Presiding Officers at polling booths, I was dismayed to know that the personnel working at the booths have no time to rest or stretch their legs and limbs from morning till the time of closure. I feel it is inhuman to make them work like this continuously which also impairs their efficiency and temperament.
Also no lunch or refreshments were provided for them by the authorities, I am told. They said that during their time the villagers used to prepare food for them treating the occasion as a festival but soon it was discontinued because of objections from contestants sensing favouritism etc.
I have only listed a few that occurred to my thinking. I am sure a lot more needs to be done to bring about a big change in voter participation, ease of voting etc.
– Prof. B.S. Shankara (retd.), Mysuru, 11.5.2023
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