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Things officials didn't quite get right on voting day in Pune

Friday, 18 April 2014 - 11:56am IST | Place: Pune | Agency: dna

  • No ramps for the disabled and senior citizens, defunct EVMs — there were many things that officials got wrong on the big day Shashank Sane, Snehil Sakhare dna

Out of order, tampered EVMs

Early morning voters, including many senior citizens, were bewildered one of the electronic voting machines (EVM) reportedly ‘marked’ all votes to Congress. The incident occurred at a polling booth at Shamrao Kalmadi School, where voters discovered that irrespective of the option selected on the EVM, only the Congress light would blink. Bimba Nagarmath, a resident of Erandwane in Pune complained to the polling officer of booth 263 at the Shamrao Kalmadi High School. Voting had already commenced by 7:15 a.m. and 28 votes had already been votes by then. Some of the alert voters brought this to the notice of the election officials, who stopped voting immediately. For about an hour-and-a-half voting was put on hold as EVM machine had to be replaced, to which people demand to extend voting period up to 8:30 p.m. “The Election Commission authorities have ordered a new machine for this particular polling booth, which is expected to come soon,” said local BJP activist Madhuri Sahasrabuddhe. After replacing the EVMs, the poll panel has also decided to permit the 28 voters who had already cast fresh votes.

At Nagarwala school in Kalyaninagar, voting started nearly an hour late, as the EVM machine weren’t working, leading to long queues. There were no facilities to accommodate senior citizens or disabled persons. Presiding officer at the polling booth, Anand Patil said, ‘Due to some technical link and press error in the EVM, voting was stopped until 8am, despite the fact we have checked the EVM twice in the morning before the polling could start, the error had come up all of a sudden. It took more than 40 minutes for the technician to resolve the EVM.”


No help or support for these loyal voters

At Ahmednagar Road, 52-year-old Shrikar Akhade who couldn’t walk crawled to cast his vote as there were no wheelchairs. The government employee with the agriculture department told dna, “My disability has never been a hindrance in doing my work. But what is the harm in asking the government to provide at least basic facilities to people like us?” With no other option but to crawl up the multi-storey building, Akhade proved he is a responsible citizen.

A 35-year-old physically challenged person had to wait for half an hour to cast his ballot. Subodh Jagtap, resident of Shastrinagar had to turn to his friend, who carried him to the classroom. Jagtap said, “There was nobody to help me. So I called my friend to the booth. Later, I was provided with a chair which is why I was at ease and cast my vote.”

At Vimannagar, an elderly man Michael D’souza couldn’t cast his vote despite his name being listed, as he could not climb the stairs at the polling station. The irate 78-year old said, “This is what we as citizens get in return for the support we provide to these political parties. But can’t they provide us with basic necessities such as a ramp or an elevator or any other alternative so we have to leave without casting our vote.”

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