This was the first time Nisha K., a Higher Secondary teacher from Kuttiyadi was deployed on poll duty. On the very first chance, she was chosen as a presiding officer, the one in charge of a booth. What’s more, her booth happened to be an all-women booth with most of the team experiencing poll duty for the first time.
“We were very apprehensive initially. We did not have much experience handling the poll process. With no men in the team, we feared that the people would not take us seriously. But all was well. The people were very cooperative,” said a relieved Nisha to The Hindu on Monday when the poll process was at its peak in the Achuthan Girls’ Higher Secondary School in Kozhikode.
But the presiding officers in the other all women booths were not as inexperienced as Nisha and hence, did not find any problems in carrying out their duty.
In many booths, the presiding officers as well as the polling officers were from the same locality or even employees of the same schools the booths were located in. This was very convenient and comfortable for them, as they were familiar with the surroundings.
However, there have been complaints that the polling process was lagging in these booths. “I stood in the queue for two hours. It was very slow-moving. People here started protesting after some time,” said Sarojini, an elderly voter who had cast her vote at the all-women booth in the Government Higher Secondary School in Cheruvannur.
Ms.Nisha admitted that there was a lag.
“The second polling officer has three tasks to do – applying the ink, making the voter sign and then tearing the slip. It takes more time than expected,” she said, while some voters pointed out that the women polling officers were extra cautious in executing their duty, which led to the delay.
Meanwhile, another voter, Ananadavalli at Cheruvannur questioned the necessity of an all-women booth. “We did not have any problem voting earlier when some of the polling officers were men. Now that they are all women, I don’t see any big change or feel any more comfortable than before,” she said.
The all-women booths were introduced to lure more women voters to the booths and also as a means of women empowerment.
There were 15 such booths in Kozhikode district all together.