Tuesday, April 22, 2014

A presiding officer’s diary



An illiterate woman entered into the voting compartment and got utterly confused after she saw the sophisticated ballot unit of the EVM. What to press for what-she could not comprehend. The next voter stood waiting but the woman was still in the compartment undone. The polling officers, staying outside the compartment, tried to make her understand the act of pressing a switch against her preferred symbol/candidate.
Many onlookers were restless at the enormous delay. The polling was halted. And then to the surprise of all a beep sound was heard. The polling officers along with some aware voters shouted in joy, “Oh Ma, it is done! It is done!” And now that woman came out of the compartment happily beaming with a smile of utter satisfaction.
As a presiding officer I wanted to record that joy and smile of that woman on my presiding officer’s diary but that official format of diary which was supplied to us did not have space to record the enormous aspirations with which an illiterate woman of India voted.
The right to vote is priceless......
For 5 years you will pay taxes and in return you will get a single chance to press a button on EVM. But I failed to understand the importance of casting my vote. As a presiding officer I conducted election in an interior pocket of my state but I missed my voting right because I was too lazy to fill my forms for postal vote.
Looking at the joyful face of the lady I thought that I was really doing a commendable job.


A young boy came into the polling station wearing a green shirt and green trousers. So he looked like a bunch of tall and green rice plants. Seeing him I asked, “Is it your first time to cast your vote?” He smiled and nodded his head in affirmation. The first polling officer checked his identity and found everything correct. When he allowed the young voter to cast his vote I looked at the boy and wished, “Go and press the right button so that my country becomes all green like the colour which you have chosen to cover yourself in.” All my polling officers realised that we now need rapid progress.


A talkative woman, perhaps a teacher, came to the polling station. She completed all the formalities of a voter that is required before casting her vote. She showed her voter’s id for identity check.  She signed on the voter’s register. But she stopped at the second polling officer and vehemently objected to apply the indelible ink mark on her nails. I was called in to see the matter. I asked the lady why she refused to have the ink mark. She answered me, “The ink takes a long time to remove and it will diminish her beauty.” I was dumb-found. I took some time to keep my composure and then gave a strict order, “No ink mark means there is no access to the voting compartment.” The lady shouted at me. She told, “I will see you. How can you debar me from casting my vote after all I have already signed on the voter’s register?” This time I lost my patience and in the most solid voice I declared, “Under rule 49, I have every right to debar you from the polling station.”
However, she was allowed to cast her vote when she agreed to follow the rules of voting procedure. After she left the polling station, the polling agents revealed that the lady once faced a road accident and she behaved abnormally after that accident.

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