MANGALURU: Hundreds of Presiding and Polling officers attending the second and final training at Town hall were forced to fill up ballot paper in the green room’s toilet on Sunday.
A presiding officer on condition of anonymity told Express that nearly 300 presiding and polling officers were asked to cast their postal ballots in the green room located on the right side of dias. "In order to ensure secrecy, I and many polling officers had no other option but to fill up the ballot paper in the toilet," the Presiding officer said.
Those who could not tolerate the foul smell reeking from the toilet, opted to remain in the green room and join other polling officials in elbowing and jostling for some space inside the crammed green room.
Sources told express that due to poor planning by election officials, the postal votes were cast amid plenty of confusion.
Initially, the postal voting by those who had registered in the first and second meeting took place in the town hall’s dining hall. "As the training progressed, ballot votes were also cast simultaneously creating unnecessary confusion," a polling officer who had travelled all the way from Sullia taluk told express.
In the evening, Mangaluru City South Returning Officer (RO) Anthony Maria Emannuel invited presiding and polling officers to cast their postal votes in the green room. Many polling officials angry with the arrangements and the RO’s ear-splitting rant over the microphone left the Town hall in a huff without exercising their franchise.
"Nearly 600 presiding and polling officers exercised their franchise," Mangaluru City South RO Anthony Emannuel informed when contacted by Express over the phone. Denying that many polling officers had left without exercising their postal votes, he said absentees, those who had registered for postal vote on Sunday and those facing technical glitches could not vote.
"They can exercise their postal votes at Mangaluru City Corporation (MCC) and Mini Vidhan Soudha on Monday,’’ he said and denied that many were forced to fill up ballot paper in the toilet. Only about 200 presiding and polling officers were present to exercise postal vote (for Mangaluru North and South assembly constituencies) in the green room towards the end of training, he clarified.