For me, it was the first time in Bombay.I have voted earlier in Baroda. Unfortunately, the last elections my name was not on the list and I couldnt vote here. But this time I was determined and we got our election cards done, etc etc (with a big fight with RD, which is another story in itself!) anyways, the name was in the list..and since RD’s office didnt have a leave, we decided to leave early.
Another lady from the building requested us if she could accompany yes, I told her, as long as you are ready to leave at 6.45 in the morning, its fine 🙂 She agreed.
So we left at about 6.50 AM. We used the GPS to find out the place we were going to vote. And Pepper, it worked well okay? So you and RD can gloat about it for a while 🙂
We reached there and RD was asked to park in a small open space near the school. I must admit, I was pretty astonished to see the number of people already standing in the line. But I guess most people thought they would beat the heat and then perhaps some people even had work to go to.
This is when the real experience started.
First, they had separate queues for men and women. Fine enough. But soon we realised that it was only in our room. The other rooms had a common line. But thats okay.
Then one really old uncle who needed support came in to vote in our booth. This uncle had a walking stick and was bent. I was admiring his spirit to celebrate democracy when one man (A polling officer) came and announced that senior citizens should be allowed to go in first. At first, no one said anything and let the uncle go because he was really old and really struggling to even walk. But after that a robust looking man, who was WAY younger than my father and perhaps as fit as me, walked in saying ‘arey senior citizens ko separate line why shouldnt I take advantage‘ Everyone was shell shocked, he went in voted and came out. He really didnt need that special treatment. People started grumbling, which I think was right. RD told the policeman outside our booth that perhaps they should let only people who really needed to get in first, go in, not able folks. That uncle came out and realised the entire queue of both men and women was really angry at him. He showed off, went to the officer and told him that senior citizens dont need a separate line. WHAT AN IDIOT! HE first goes in and votes and then comes out and gets all preachy. I was fuming, but shut up! Some folks are so ugh!
anyways after that when the men’s queue went outside the gate of the school, the policeman made all the men go and stand behind the women. Which was wrong again, because some women had come after the men, but the men had to go and stand AFTER them. Surprisingly no one protested.
And in the meantime, one policeman sauntered in, got his name checked, voted and came out. Just like that. Without standing in the line, without bothering to even request folks that could he go in? just like that!!!!
Now, this whole election procedure reeks of bureaucracy and craziness honestly.
1. So I went in. One guy took a slip from me and my election card (Those without the slip werent allowed to vote as only those whose name is on the electoral list have that slip!) anyways he searched and searched my name, despite there being a number allocated to me.
2. After that a lady next to him with the same list AGAIN too my card and slip and searched and searched despite knowing my name
3. AGAIN a third lady with the SAME list searched and searched my name and announced it loudly
4. Then AGAIN a man took my card and slip searched and searched my name in the SAME list and then inked my finger and asked me to go and vote.
I mean four folks with duplicate copy of the same list and not even understanding that after 1328 comes before 1583! It was so bloody frustrating. Here we are in the technology age, giving away free TVs and Washing machines..cant the EC afford a computerized system to make work easier, faster and more efficient???
all in all, they were taking almost 5-7 minutes per person. And this was at the start of the day. I wonder how they were going to cope up with the crowds further down the day!
It was super frustrating, but chalo at least I voted!
To the EC
1. Perhaps instead of making harried school teachers do this job, you could take up young college graduates or class 11-12 children to do this work. They could be supervised by an older person. I think they will be a lot more efficient, will do it with a lot more enthu and will perhaps reduce the time to about 2 minutes per person
2. Why four people with the same list? I can understand cross verifying..but do it with two folks na..why four!!! you are doubling the time required per person
3. Laptops. One per each booth. It will be so much more efficient. Everyone knows computers now.
4. Separate booths for senior citizens. Anyone about 60 segregate and make a separate list and then make special arrangements for them na. Like chairs, water, etc etc.
I know conducting elections in the world’s largest democracy with about 1.1 billion folks is not joke, but a bit of efficiency and a bit less of bureaucracy can make life so much easier and simpler for everyone!