Voted.

by Dina on May 1, 2009 · 4 comments

in Indian Culture

I did. Got to the Municipal School at Khar Danda at 2.45 pm (my registration is still at my Carter Road address) and it was complete chaos. All we had with us was a little chit (printed with my name and address handwritten on it) which had my serial number on it – 793, but no details on which classroom to go and cast my vote. I asked a couple of cops and officers (couldn’t really tell who was and wasn’t clearly) and they directed me to room no. 93.  I was thrilled as the queue there was really short. Tweeted it too!

And then, after getting into the classroom to vote, I was told I need to go downstairs and get the classroom number again because my name was not on this list. The officers who had directed me to room 93 must have decided to ignore the 7 on the number 793 (my voter number) and sent me to the wrong room!  So I went to the main courtyard downstairs and stood in another queue which took me an hour to clear, where the officer was actually wading through manual lists and locating our rooms for us – so for eg. he had lists by classrooms – he was checking no. 793 (my voter number) in each of the manuals until he found the correct room for me. Having done that, he issued me another little chit with my name, age 53 years!!!! and the classroom number 87 all handwritten.

I go and stand in queue no. 87 which was really long – it was about 4 pm by then and we got inside the classroom only to be told once again, we were in the wrong one as our names weren’t on the list. I was really really pissed off. The officer in that classroom said he ‘thought’ we should be in room no. 88 but wasn’t sure – so back again downstairs to check.  I knew the polling ends at 5 pm and had almost given up, as it was 4.45 by then. Luckily, 88 it was, and there was no queue.

Tough huh.  I’m hoping in time, this entire process is eased.  I’m educated and have access to sites like Jaago Re and I still had all these problems. There were so many others there who had been at the booth for over 2 hours and still trying to figure out where to go to vote. Moreover, all data on voters is now available electronically to the government – why can’t they make it simple for us to exercise our ballot online?

I was amazed to see the number of elderly people at the booth. Didn’t see as many youth as I had expected though.  One young guy – a first time voter was standing behind me in the queue and we got talking. He was really thrilled that he was voting. I asked him what motivated him, and he said that he is eligible and had received his election card so he was here. His friends he said had not received their cards and were disappointed that they could not vote. He thought he was in a separate line for first-time voters and was excited to use the electronic voting machine and had tons of questions about how to go about it. Then he asked – who should I vote for – and it was funny how a lot of people there pounced on him and said “we aren’t supposed to tell!”

There was this elderly fisherwoman in the line too who caught my attention for a different reason. Right outside each classroom was a chart with the names of candidates, their political parties and their visual symbol. She was intrigued by the symbols there – she picked on the banana of a certain independent candidate and started giggling and said she would vote for the ‘kela’.  Then when she saw the ceiling fan against another independent candidate’s name, she said she changed her mind – it was hot at the booth you see. She had all of us laughing!

Last thoughts … it’s weird this time they got our middle fingers marked. Here’s mine, and since yesterday it has this strange disposition :).

A potential tool for protest if the government does not shape up – best explained by Nita here.

And next time, if they don’t revert to the neat black dot at the base of your nail, I will apply nail polish before I go voting – my nail is so badly stained!

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Why Have Voter Registration Campaigns Not Increased Voter Turnout in the 2009 Indian Lok Sabha Elections? | Gauravonomics Blog
May 3, 2009 at 12:50 pm

{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Shefaly May 1, 2009 at 4:00 pm

In all this – running around, being described as 53 years old, waiting in the heat, and having a nail painted by surprise – you are to be commended for sticking to your guns and actually voting. Good on you, Dina! More should follow your example.

PS: In all my moving around in India in my adult life, for college/ b-school/ jobs, I voted for the first time ever in the UK. As citizens of the commonwealth we were allowed to vote in local and national elections.

2 Kiran Jonnalagadda May 1, 2009 at 4:30 pm

They gave me that ugly line too. The stain on the skin peels off in a few days, so with some nail polish, you should be relatively better looking soon.

I went to vote at 8 AM (on Apr 23 here in Bangalore) and finished in under half an hour because so few had turned up by then. We had this paper slip with booth number business too, but luckily there were multiple desks operated by each of the major political parties. The Congress desk was well organised. They had pre-printed, sorted slips with everyone’s name and with the name of their candidate in bigger type. The BJP desk a little further out was issuing handwritten slips. Since there was practically no one in queue there, I went over and got my slip in a couple of minutes. Under half an hour for the whole process is not a bad deal.

Another oddity: the signboard outside the booths listing the candidates and their symbols was entirely in Kannada. No English, and no graphical symbols against the candidate names. I can barely read the script, so even reading the full list of candidates was a major effort. (This was the case even in 2004, when it took me by surprise; this time I knew my candidates in advance.) This system is downright hostile to folks who are given a local listing within six months of moving anywhere, but not given a list of candidates in a script that is accepted nationwide. I’m curious whether this is the EC’s convention across India or just in some areas.

3 Dina May 1, 2009 at 4:47 pm

Thanks Shefaly! Kiran – lucky you :). The signboards here too were all in Marathi – although the script is the same as Hindi so I could be mistaken as I didn’t really read it through.

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