Voter Assistance Booth is a welcome Step!

In Delhi Assembly elections held on December 4, 2013, Election Commission (EC) introduced a new election practice this time:

1. Election Commission itself deployed its staff and distributed “Authenticated Photo Voters SLIP” to households (2-3 days before polling day). Photo Voter Slip is a small piece of paper that has voter’s name, photo, voter ID card number, booth number (where she is supposed to go and vote) and serial number.

2. A voter is supposed to take along with her Voter ID card and “Authenticated Photo Voter Slip” when she goes to vote. In case, she does not have a Photo voter slip or forgets to carry it, she can obtain one at Voter Assistance Booth (VAB), specially created this time by election commission outside the polling booth where BLO (Booth Level Officer) deployed by EC would assist the voter and issue a new Photo voter slip.

I welcome these 2 new measures initiated by Election Commission. This means:

– The practices by political parties of distributing their own Voter Slips becomes less meaningful now. I do not mind if the parties keep doing it. let them do it, but EC has already served the purpose!

– More importantly, the practice of setting up a Voter Assistance Booth (VAB) is a great welcome. Taking this forward, in my opinion, Election Commission should now discourage (or even ban) the political parties to set up booth tables by political parties outside the Booth. EC has already served the purpose of helping voters find their information through VAB. The tables set up by parties often become a ploy for enticing voters (though discreetly), show off of egos and emotions.

If this measure is taken, then political parties would have to appoint Booth Agents only (those who sit inside the polling Booth acting as an observer for the party).

Along with this, I shall add (though I intend to discuss it in details in another post):

1. Allow the voter to vote at any booth in the constituency. For example: A voter can go and vote at any of the 156 booths of Greater Kailash Assembly area. Current practice is that a voter is allowed to vote at a designated polling booth (say number 10).

2. Polling (voting) should be allowed for a few days (say, a week) rather than just for a day. For example: Polling Day is Nov 7. The voters should have a choice to vote from Nov 1 to 6 at a few designated polling stations, and then on Polling Day (Nov 7), the whole apparatus should be on display (as it happens under current schema).

 

 

 

One thought on “Voter Assistance Booth is a welcome Step!”

  1. Nice article Dr. Munish. I really liked the idea of extending the polling for a few days rather than a single day, as it is in the current schema. Actually, there are measure already in place. I was actually taken by surprise when my sister, a Delhi Govt. employee, told me she casted her vote 10 days in advance because she might be assigned election duty. I thought how amazing it would have been, if there were similar measures in place in corporate sector as well, realizing that office going people constitute a vast %age of those who don’t vote.

    This idea needs to implemented, if EC ever chooses to give it a chance, in a very thought out and phased manner, starting first in the areas with lowest voter turnout. Additionally, corporate sector can be targeted as well by setting up a polling booth outside main office of the company, allowing only employees of that company – and may be nearby companies, depending on number of employees in the company – to vote at that polling booth. Further, companies can give 1-2 hour break, depending on number of employee in particular subsection of that company, at different time of the day to different dept. in the company, allowing employees to vote in a hassle free and systemic manner. For e.g.. – giving employees in marketing section a break from 8AM – 10 AM, in finance sector from 10AM – 12PM and so on. This idea can further be extended by setting up polling booths outside shopping malls, and main shopping centers. The idea mainly should be, in my opinion, to provide more options to middle class and working class voters, increasing voting percentage and making main election day less chaotic.

    This idea although can be very beneficial- if applied thoughtfully, needs strong political will. Given the present system, which benefits the ruling class – in most cases – if voting %age is low and gives little incentive to the middle class voters to vote, it seems less likely that current establishment will favor such reform. I hope AAP forms the govt. in Delhi and be the trendsetter for others to follow…….

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