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Posts tagged ‘elections’

The PMC elections: How to vote manual

The elections for the Municipal Corporation are only a few days away. The conscientious citizen in me went to the `Meet your (potential) Corporator’ session organised by the local Vikas Mandal. I went with the objective of figuring out who to vote for… or at least, who not to vote for.

The session was not very well-attended – either by citizens or contestants. If it were perhaps I would have been better informed now on who to give my vote to. Nevertheless, here is what I learnt:

  1. This time, in Pune, wards have been grouped into `panels’ (called `prabhag’ in Marathi). There are four groups/categories (gats) in each panel. Each party fields four candidates – one in each group.
  1. Each voter casts a vote for EACH GROUP. So a voting is complete ONLY when you have cast FOUR votes. Else it is invalid.
  1. At the polling booth there will be multiple Electronic Voting Machines (EVM’s). As many as are required to contain the entire list of all candidates for each group. Each group is color coded – white, pink/red, yellow and blue. So pick one person in each of these color coded blocks
  1. To choose a candidate, press the button next to the persons name and electoral symbol. When you have pressed four buttons (one in each block) a buzzer will sound indicating all four presses have been registered and your vote is done.
  1. The order in which you go through the blocks picking your choice is not important. Any order is fine. Whenever you are done with the fourth, the buzzer will sound
  1. It is not necessary to choose candidates from the same party across groups. You can vote one from say, BJP, other from Congress, third from NCP and so on.
  1. Each group list will have a NOTA (None of the Above) button at the very end. You may choose this in one or all of the groups. However, while that captures your disgruntlement, it is a sub-optimal choice. This, of course, is my opinion and you are entitled to feel otherwise!
  1. There is much confusion around polling booths and who is allocated where. You may end up having to go to multiple booths to figure out where you have to vote. If you are lucky, you will get a slip from one of the parties beforehand identifying it for you else you will need to approach one of the help tables that parties will likely set up on election day. So, budget some time for this activity
  1. I got no clear answers to questions on how the four elected candidates (the new Corporators from each zone) will work together post-elections. Will responsibilities be geographically defined? What is the ward to group mapping? Is this mapping already done? How will budget-allocagtion and management happen? What about accountability? My understanding is, no one has clarity on these issues yet.

Anyone who can bring more information to the table please do. Also, please correct anything that I have mis-understood and/or communicated incorrectly in the list above

A few observations on the meeting itself:

  1. There were very few citizens present. Many of those present seemed to be there just to express discontent with the whole electoral process and insist that NOTA was the only option worth considering
  2. Only one candidate turned up. That too rather late. Perhaps this consitutency is not important enough to the parties or perhaps they had already made an assessment of numbers and attitude and found more worthwhile meeting spots. After all there are hardly any days left to D Day
  3. Even the one candidate who did come did not have a clear plan of action, other than the general `in-the-air’ promises. If he did have a vision, I was unable to comprehend it from what he spoke
  4. While the behaviour of the candidates (in terms of not turning up) was poor, the citizens too were a little high-handed in their language and attitude towards the party representatives. Enjoying the `power’ of their vote perhaps?? But, finally, that is simply counter-productive

I hear there are some wards where such meetings have been very useful. In another ward a friend attended and came away with a very good experience. Candidates from all contesting parties were present, they addressed the citizen charter of demands clearly and within the time – frame given. We wondered why there was so much difference between our experiences and here are some points that I came away with:

 

  1. Ensure the event has been well-promoted among citizens and much in advance
  2. Have a clear agenda circulated before hand. Each candidate in the meeting was given five minutes to go over the citizens charter of demands and given an opportunity to speak followed by Q&A
  3. Have some ground rules clearly explained before the meeting begins… e.g. in this meeting they had clarified that no English was to be used, Hindi would be used for all verbal communication. One of the other rules they had was no arguments, no criticism of any candidate or party. Listen and clarify. Not a forum to keep pushing till you get all your answers.

In the interest of getting the most out of these initiatives still on the anvil it might be useful to reflect on these.

Wishing all of us a peaceful election process and a Municipal Corporator(s) we deserve :p

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And I voted…

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 …

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