By Apilang Apum
Unlike previous election, this year the Election Commission of India had directed to set up women polling booths where all presiding and polling officers would be women. At first, when I received the information with my name in the election duty-training list, I was confused and upset.
“If a district can be run by a woman then why should we be fearful of performing election duty,” was the comment of EAC on the first day of our training involving all women? I was truly inspired after hearing her comment and confident of discharging given task.
However, the fear of performing election duty as a presiding officer (PO) lurked in the back of my mind. I was very reluctant to accept the challenge at hand to be a PO on polling day. After several rounds of training, the names of the POs deployed were published and my name was in reserve list. I was thrilled, but it was short lived.
I received directive to perform duty when my heart began to race. Nevertheless, I and five POs including a mother of a one-year old child and a recently pregnant lady reached the assigned polling station on April10 on time. Our security officers were two women and a man. The entire voting process went smoothly with full coordination from BLO, polling agents and smart POs.
But, the horrible hours started when we reached the strong room at 11:30 pm. The queue was long and the submission procedure was cumbersome. We had to submit the EVM separately for Assembly and Lok Sabha elections. When we submitted our EVMs, it was 5 am and we were exasperated. One can only imagine the excruciating pain a nursing mother had to endure by staying away from her child the whole night and a pregnant woman to stay awake without any rest. Of all the women polling teams of our districts, some were mothers with young children and some were pregnant. A few were spinsters.
I would like to suggest that all DEOs give preference to women’s team during submission process from next election. As a first timer, I faced difficulties in performing my duty during the election. But I am proud of myself for discharging the given task successfully. I want to applaud my team members for their efficiency in executing their duties and excellent coordination.
I also realised that the election process needs more work force and therefore one should not be hesitant to perform election duty. We are all contributing towards building a better community, a more progressive society, a more developed state, and a great nation.
My first election duty was unforgettable. Though my team was the last to submit the EVMs, but by being the last, I am confident to say that in the next election, my team would be the first to submit the EVMs.
This election gave me an opportunity to interact and meet many wonderful souls that helped me to develop new friendships. The election is over, but the relationship that we built in the last one month will continue. I also thank the ECI, state Nirvachan Bhawan and DEO for trusting us, particularly women, and the opportunity to perform duties.
By Apilang Apum