Despite the Election Commission’s efforts to inform people through advertisements and public notices that mobile phones were not allowed inside polling stations, several voters across Delhi were caught unaware of the rule.
Where the security was tight, voters had to either return home to keep the phones or were assisted by workers of different parties who offered to keep their phones safe with them till they returned.
In either case, the rule, or rather the ignorance of it, led to inconvenience for the voters.
The ignorance was widely visible as in some cases policemen had to rush to stop people who had entered the polling station even while they were speaking on the phones.
This despite computer printouts pasted outside every polling station that carrying mobile phones were banned inside.
There were also many smaller stations where voters were allowed to carry their phones to the polling booths. Though voters were frisked for mobile phones at the few sensitive booths, police were lax at most other places, going by the words of the voters.
Many voters, who had lied to policemen and had sneaked their phones along with them, were seen telling other people to do the same.
Volunteers of political parties used this inconvenience to their advantage.
“We belong to the party’s help desk and can hold your phone while you vote. BJP’s symbol is lotus and is the second option on the EVM,” a volunteer told an old couple at Dwarka in West Delhi constituency.
However, police personnel were not willing to hold the phones of voters despite repeated requests by them at all the polling stations visited by Deccan Herald in West Delhi constituency.
While those who had arrived by their own four-wheelers had the option of keeping the phones in their vehicles, those who had come to the polling booths by walk or public transport were the sufferers. Many families chose to vote in two groups so that there could be someone reliable to keep their phones.
At a polling station in Lodhi Colony, an elderly government servant offered to help two young women.
“Let me take care of your phone till you come back,” the voter, who was already carrying his own family’s phones, told them.