‘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.
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.
“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.
“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
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.
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
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.
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