Heritage touch to polling on the cards in City of Joy

The commission has been considering a proposal to convert the tram car, the heritage means of conveyance in the city, into polling booths for the first time in Independent India, provided a few logistic hurdles are overcome.

The commission had directed its officials to come up with some innovative ideas to conduct smooth polling in some densely populated localities. According to N K Sahana, officer-on-special-duty in the office of the chief electoral officer(CEO), the commission officials here, after a thorough scrutiny of the voters' list in the city, have identified some booths where the number of electorate does exceed the stipulated figure per booth.

The officials found that it could be difficult to organise booths in some of the ghettos in areas like Maniktala, Bowbazar, Entally and Shyampukur. The EVM capacity is a major factor for polling as it takes at least 14 to 20 seconds to cast a vote. Hence the entire process of casting a ballot would take at least one and a half minute including the time for checking the records, EPICs or relevant documents. “It was then that the idea of using trams occurred to us as the trams can easily be converted into polling booths. It'd  be pictorially attractive as well,” Sahana said on Monday.

The commission officials approached the Calcutta Tramways Company (CTC) managing director Pradip Chatterjeer and held a preliminary meeting where the concept was discussed.

“Trams are airy and roomy and if the security aspect is properly taken care of, it would be a novel polling booth," Sahana pointed out.  

A tram car may not have toilet or other facilities for the polling staff; but if this auxiliary booth is set up inside the tram depot and the carriage is well-protected, it would be ideal.

The office of the Chief Election Commission is yet to work out the details but it has not shot it down either.  Once the EC gives its nod, voters in some areas can share the unique experience of exercising their franchise in this heritage carriage. And if luck permits, they can have a free ride as well.

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