TIRUCHY: Though conducting election amid pandemic was challenging, it did offer some new experience to youth. For the first time, the Revenue Department had roped in youngsters and college students to work as volunteers at polling booths. They were engaged in providing mask, sanitizers and gloves to voters.
Prior to the election, the respective district administrations had formed a group of volunteers, mostly college students from the locality, for each polling booth to ensure that booths do not turn into Covid hotspots. Volunteers were asked to participate in a one-day training programme, in which officials from the Revenue and Health Departments explained their task on sensitising people to importance of social distance and wear mask. They were also given identity cards marked as 'election workers' with their names written on it.
"Three weeks ago, I was informed that I will be engaged as election worker. I have never been this close to polling booths. It was a new experience for me. I now understand how complicated the process of conducting elections is and feel proud that I have contributed a small bit in ensuring it was conducted in a safe manner," said Narmada, a first-year student from UDC College, who was assigned as a volunteer in Pappakurichi polling booth.
Talking about the training, Anbuselvan, a college student and poll worker in Tiruchy West constituency, said, "During the training programme, we were taught how to use thermal guns and spray sanitizers without coming in contact with voters. After casting my vote early, I am designated to work at the allotted booth till 7 pm."
In places where enough college-goers could not be mobilised, the district administration had roped in youth from respective villages to oversee the distribution of masks and gloves. Shah Rukh Khan (21), a youth from Devarayaneri said, "I was contacted through my local ward member about the opportunity to work as an election worker. Apart from voting for the first time in my life, I was worked as a poll worker. It was a dual and a new experience for me.