THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: On Monday, in the early morning rain, when Rekha Rajesh walked into the polling booth, little did she know that casting the vote would be a leisurely activity. Unlike other polling station at Raja Kesavadas NSS HSS, booth no 95 did not witness any hustle. It was peaceful and voting followed a novel approach. There were no serpentine queues in front of the polling station, unlike the usual scenario.
Surprised, Rekha stood at the entrance of the polling station. But, she was immediately ushered into a waiting room. Clutching onto the token slip, she waited. Soon footfalls increased, and a queue started forming in front of the polling station. A polling booth official rushed to the scene, briefing the early birds to collect their tokens and sit patiently in the waiting room, where sweets and newspapers were arranged.
The Vattiyoorkavu bypoll offered a unique experience for the voters who thronged the model polling station. As the clock struck seven, Rekha was ushered in to cast her vote. What followed after casting the vote surprised her. She was offered a laddoo and a pouch of chilly seeds. At the model polling booth, casting the vote was an experience in itself. “It was very exciting. Usually, I come early to avoid the rush. The new system makes casting the vote a simple and easy affair,” she said.
Among the five polling booths arranged at the booth in the school, one was a model polling booth, one where voting was a very relaxed affair.Although the Election Commission had arranged facilities like feeding rooms in the previous elections, it was the first time that the voters were offered a range of facilities, including medical care. There was no queue in front of the booth. All the voters had to do was make themselves comfortable at the waiting room, snack on the sweets, read newspapers and wait till their number was called for voting.
Eighty-eight-year-old T G Thankamma couldn’t contain her surprise when she was offered the sweet. “I am diabetic and can’t have the ladoo. I taught at this school and have been casting the vote here all my life. This is the first time I am experiencing such a welcome at a polling station,” said Thankamma. “I taught him,” she said nodding at the 65-year-old C Sreekumar who was equally surprised by the new voting custom. “This is very interesting,” said Sreekumar as he showed the set of pumpkin seeds and sweets that he was welcomed with. “Getting a laddoo is a first. And we can wait for our turn patiently.
There is no rush and it is extremely helpful to the elderly. Voting has been made less complicated and easy,” he said.As many as 20 model polling booths were set up in the capital, each one offering takeaways to the voters and making voting an effortless affair. In some polling stations, saplings were also given away. Help-desks were arranged at a few polling stations along with facilities to check the details of the voters. The focus was also on making elections greener, by offering saplings and seeds to the voters.