‘We Travelled and Covered the Postal Ballot Voting in West Bengal’

It almost took an hour in every house that Koushik and team visited to get the postal vote registered.

Updated
My Report
3 min read
West Bengal has initiated the process of Postal votes for the first time for Assembly Elections 2021.
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The Election Commission for the first time has allowed postal ballot facility available to senior citizens and others in the ongoing West Bengal Assembly Election.

The Block Development Office (BDO) of Rajarhat, West Bengal hired about 143 freelance photographers to assist their team to document the entire process. My friend, Koushik Das and I instantly applied and we were recruited. Unfortunately, I was unable to go due to some personal reasons but I was in constant touch with Koushik who was working from the field, to make a written report of all that was happening on ground. Koushik travelled to the BDO office on 10 April.

Postal voting process in Keshtopur
Postal voting process in Keshtopur
(Photo Courtesy: Koushik Das)
“I had to travel to the BDO office in Rajarhat, which was about 22 kilometres from my house. From there, all of us left for the location in two cars, accompanied by CRPF officials.”
Koushik Das, Photographer

Koushik covered three parts of the city to document the process. He went to South Dum Dum and New Town, Keshtopur and Baguihati. In the car, he travelled along with two polling officers and one micro observer, who were in-charge of the voting process and they covered almost 15 houses a day.

Though the collection of postal ballots started only in April, the list of eligible voters were made a couple of months ago.

Candidates submitted proper ID proof and valid documents
Candidates submitted proper ID proof and valid documents
(Photo Courtesy: Koushik Das)
“The candidate has to show his/her voter ID card. The official then provides a pro-valid paper to cast the postal vote.”
Koushik Das, Photographer
  • <div class="paragraphs"><p>An old lady filling a form during the postal voting.</p></div>
  • <div class="paragraphs"><p>A cardboard structure was set-up at a voter's house at Keshtopur.</p></div>
  • <div class="paragraphs"><p>A voter casting his vote in his house.</p></div>
  • <div class="paragraphs"><p>A voter with a ballot form.</p></div>

It almost took an hour in every house that Koushik and team visited to get the postal vote registered. The team had to set up a confined space in the corner of a room with a cardboard box, so that the secrecy of the voting process was maintained. Once the citizen voted by placing a tick next to the candidate and party of their choice, the paper was folded and was enclosed in an envelope, which was then sealed by the official.

Sealed envelope of postal vote
Sealed envelope of postal vote
(Photo Courtesy: Koushik Das)

The election was being held during the pandemic, so strict COVID protocols were followed.

“The citizens were asked to sanitise their hands and their temperature was checked and all of us were wearing masks and maintained social distance the entire time.”
Koushik Das, Photographer
Officials following COVID protocols
Officials following COVID protocols
(Photo Courtesy: Koushik Das)

The entire voting process was smooth and the process of postal votes were easy and convenient for the citizens. However, it took time for many voters to comprehend the system. A few voters were also skeptical on whether the secrecy of their vote would be maintained. The polling officials were patient enough to clear the doubts of citizens about the postal ballot. Howbeit, that made it time consuming for the officials to complete the whole process.

Family members of senior citizens were happy that such an initiative was taken by the EC as it would have been difficult for them to travel to the polling booth during the COVID-19 pandemic.

(All ‘My Report' branded stories are submitted by citizen journalists to The Quint. Though The Quint inquires into the claims/allegations from all parties before publishing, the report and the views expressed above are the citizen journalist's own. The Quint neither endorses, nor is responsible for the same.)

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