[ Apilang Apum ]
Unlike in previous elections, this year the Election Commission of India (ECI) directed setting up women’s polling booths where all the presiding and polling officers would be women.
When I received the information with my name on the election duty training list, I was initially confused and upset. On the first day of our training, all the women were invited. In the first round of the training, our EAC said, “If a district can be run by a woman, why should we be fearful of performing election duty?”
Hearing these words, I was truly inspired, and I felt certain that I would be able to perform the given task. However, the fear of performing election duty as a presiding officer lurked in the back of my mind. I was very reluctant to accept the challenge at hand – to be a presiding officer on the polling day.
After several rounds of training, the names of the deployed presiding officers were published. My name appeared on the reserved list. I was thrilled to be on the reserved list. However, my excitement was short-lived.
I soon got a directive that I should perform my duty. Upon receiving the news, my heart began to race. Nevertheless, on 10 April, I and five polling officers, consisting, among others, of a mother of a one-year-old and a recently pregnant lady, reached our polling station on time. Our security officers also consisted of two women and a man.
The entire voting process went smoothly, with full coordination from the BLO, the polling agents and the smart polling officers. However, the horrible hours started when we reached the strong-room. The queue was long, and the submission procedure was cumbersome. We had to submit the EVMs separately for the assembly and the parliamentary elections.
When we reached the strong-room, it was already 11:30 at night. When we submitted our EVMs, it was 5 o’clock in the morning. We were exhausted. One could only imagine the excruciating pain a nursing mother had to endure, staying away from her child the whole night, and a pregnant woman who had to stay awake without any rest. Among all the women polling teams in our districts, some were mothers with young children, and some were pregnant. A few were not married.
I would like to suggest that all the district election officers give preference to the women’s teams in the submission process from the next election onwards. As a first-timer, I faced difficulties in performing my duty during the elections, but I am proud of myself. I was able to deliver my task successfully. I wish to applaud my team members for their efficiency in executing their duties, and for their excellent coordination.
I also realize that the election process requires more workforces, and therefore one should not be hesitant to participate in elections to perform election duties. 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, I am confident enough to state right away that in the next election, my team will be the first to submit the EVMs.
This election gave me an opportunity to interact and meet with many wonderful souls. I am glad I have earned new friends. The election is over, but the relationship that we built in the last one month will remain. I also thank the ECI, the state election commission, and district election team for trusting us women and giving us the opportunity to perform election duties.