The Municipal Corporation Elections campaigning this year too were nothing short of a spectacle. From hours of inconveniencing citizens with their rallies to covertly `distributing’ funds to bridge the have-have not gap to throwing flyers from hang gliders we lived through it all.
One thing I have to thank the government for is their constant endeavour to increase the size of my family unit. In 2007 as I went to the electoral booth, I found that I had an invisible lady, same age as me, same middle and last names as me, living… surprise surprise … at the same address as … ME! I am still not done with needling my husband on that one!!!!
This time the authorities that be have been kind to hubby and not given me additional ammunition. But, come election day while some cribbed about not finding their name in the voters list I found that I was twice-blessed, literally, with my name appearing on the list in TWO constituencies!
Law abiding citizen that I am I ignored the incorrect one and reported at my allocated polling location a good hour before closure time. Thanks to the many SMS’es and postcards that hopeful candidates had sent me I had a good grip on my Election Id and even the exact room I was to vote in. Candidates are epitomes of helpfulness until after the elections aren’t they?
Well, registering formality over I proceeded to the EVM cubicle and punched my vote in for one of the candidates. Then for the next selection I tried to figure out how to register a `no choice’ . The electoral officers who had been helpful until this point suddenly turned belligerent.
“Madam you have to vote two candidates” one said. I replied with,” No, I don’t. Please tell me how to make my ONE vote valid”
“Cannot be done” (that the `Madam’ bit had been dropped did not escape my notice) he replied.
“It can. Please tell me how” I persisted.
Officer: “Unless you vote for two your vote is invalid”
Me: ” No, I WANT to vote but only on one panel. Not the other. Make it happen please”
Officer: ” I told you it is not possible. Now please move on, there are others waiting”
Me: ” Sorry they will have to wait. I am not leaving until you show me how to make my one valid vote count”
Another Officer: ” You will have to give it in writing that you want to cast only one vote”
And I thought.. what? we don’t have pens that write here? Or am I supposed to be scared about recording my intention? But I meekly say instead, ” Sure, I even have my own pen”
All officers glare at me in exasperation. The commotion is beginning to attract others. “Arre.. Mr..xyz la bolva re” says one. ” Saang, ajoon ek kat kat karnaari aali aahe”
Ah, me thought, I am not the only one. So there IS a way to make this happen. (frankly I had not been sure up to that point. But now it looked like there clearly was a way)
In a bit a young officer turned up, came over to the cubicle and as I explained to him that I could not see any button to indicate my non-vote he gallantly rrripppeed off a piece of masking tape at the bottom of the EVM. And lo and behold there was a red button hiding behind the tape!
He then told me to press the one I wanted to, register it by `enter’ing then press the little red button to to indicate `non-vote’ for the other panel.
And so I did. Did it do what I hoped it had? I sure hope so.
Was there really no way and was this was just a gimmick to get stubborn souls like me out of the way? I really don’t know 😦
But I had done my best. I had voted. I sashayed out with a triumphant look …