It is Sunday, 5th May - Election Day in Karnataka for the State Assembly. There has been unprecedented campaigns to get people to vote - through FM stations, hoardings, newspaper ads and what not.
For the first time, I got to know the list of all contestants in my Constituency online. I got a shock seeing 30+ nominations, 20 of whom were independents. For each contestant, there was link to his/her "affidavit", which I suppose gives information about his income and other details.
I could also get my polling booth details online (I guess the same has been made available through SMS as well, if you had an EPIC number). (The modern EPIC and, epic part 2 are different stories)
I and Mrs. went to the polling booth (literally a stone's throw away from our home - but a five minutes walk unless we wanted to jump the compound wall, which is lined with broken glass pieces), after lunch.
We had been given the so-called "voting slips" by a political party. The only relevance of the slip that I could make out was, it contained the serial number, which allowed a quick look-up of your name in the Electoral roll. We were asked to go out and the cop guarding the booth, had us tear portions of the slip that contained the name of the party and possibly the candidate name (the latter was in Kannada - so I am unsure). As it turns out, the polling official did not return the slip - I wonder why. He almost put a tick against the wrong name till I pointed out.
And then I saw three other people - possibly other polling officials or "agents" having the Electoral roll. Each of them put a tick against my name once it was called out. Then there was a signing and the actual pressing of the electronic voting machine...
I could not help wondering why they could not have a laptop or even a smart phone/tablet with a simple excel sheet to mark the "attendance" and just one hard-copy for the actual signature. The cost of paper involved in the election could easily be offset by the one-time purchase of these gadgets. Considering the amount of Election information online this time, the amount of paper in the polling booth seemed a stark contrast.
This was the first time I was voting in this constituency - I had moved in to this residence about 4 years back. Previously I had my name in another constituency. I had applied for enrolling in the current constituency, clearly mentioning my existing EPIC Number and details and requesting my name to be deleted from the earlier one. It is a different story that my name and other details in that constituency is incorrect. Possibly due to that or for reasons unknown to me, my name figures in both the constituencies. And to top it up, my name figures twice in the current constituency - in different polling booths. Hard to believe?
I had written about the previous election day four years back and could not help feeling this isn't much different.