Metrolife: When election duty called

Metrolife: When election duty called

People from different fields came together to ensure the smooth conduct of the election.

Each of us finds it challenging to step out of our comfort zone and do things we are not used to. During the Karnataka Assembly Election, many government officials kept aside their regular responsibilities and became officials on polling duty. 

Metrolife spoke to some officials about the experiences they had while they were at the polling booths.

Prasanna Kumar, a senior manager with Andhra Bank, was on election duty as a micro-observer. “From morning till evening I had to observe whatever was happening at the premises, including if polling started on time and things went as planned, and submit a report to the Returning Officer at the end of the day. I didn’t have to interact much with people but it was quite interesting,” he said.

“It’s a whole different world for a banker; it’s a proud moment as you feel you are doing something for the country’s betterment. This is my third time on election duty and the main difference was that there were more VVPAT machines involved,” he added.

Nisha Shibu, an assistant section officer with Survey of India, was assigned to Bethany High School, Koramangala as polling officer. “This was my second time and it was different. Things were more organised compared to last time, most of the forms were bilingual. Many people who were presiding officers did not know the local language and were finding it difficult but we all worked together as one unit and helped each other,” she said.

“A quick observation was that not many first-time voters came to vote. Most of our voters were middle-aged and above and many had come to vote right after their morning walk. It was busier in the morning; we even had little children who wanted to get inked, accompanying their parents and grandparents,” she added. 

Puja Prasad, bank manager of Candi, MG Road, was very excited about her first time on poll duty. She was deputed to a pink booth at YMCA, Nrupathunga Road as PRO. She said, “We were all excited about decorating the booth. However, the turnout was really low compared to other places. It was disheartening to just wait for people to turn up.” 

There was a two-day training for people on duty.

“The whole process went smoothly and I learnt a lot about the electoral process, how to operate the voting machines and more. I learnt a lot about the whole system,” she said.

“The arrangements at the premises weren’t done properly. We all learnt to adjust and coordinate things. We also met a lot of new people and shared interesting stories with each other,” Puja added.  

Sharath S Namburi, a member of the quick response team of Karnataka Civil Defence Corps (Ministry of Home Affairs) was on election duty for the third time. He was posted at Seva Samaja School in Subramanya Nagar.

“This time was different as I was assigned duty inside the booth unlike last time where I was assigned mobile duty outdoors with a police official. We had to go to the centre one day before and had to escort the polling officers to the venue,” he said.

Compared to his role as a member of a disaster management team, election duty was something new. “We had to stay overnight and sleep on the floor, which was quite a humbling experience. The best part was interacting with varied government officials, from Health Department to government schools and learning about their roles. Coming together for something as important as this was exhilarating too,” he adds.

“It was good to know about what happens inside a booth,” Sharath said.