2019 general elections: Technical glitches dampen polling mood

Chennai: Phase-2 of the 2019 Lok Sabha elections began 7 am across the city. Voters arrived at the polling booths ahead of the time at Chennai South constituency to cast their votes.

Apart from technical glitches which delayed the voting process at a few places, the process turned out to be incident-free.
At a polling station here, the voter verified paper audit trail (VVPAT) suffered a glitch which left many voters angry. They had to wait for more than 45 minutes for an engineer to come and replace the machine.
The incident took place at a booth 61 in Ashok Nagar, The centre had three booths. An official said, “One of the machines was not working and the other one was slow.”
The officials claimed that the machine had been working properly until last night.
Even as the engineer arrived and replaced the VVPAT, he claimed it was not a major problem.
In a separate incident, at Velacheri booth 101, the EVM machine had a technical error. The incident was reported at 7 am. Soon, the executive engineer at the spot relayed the information to the technical team who took an hour to replace the machine after which polling began at the booth.
Some of the angry voters exhausted by the heat and walked out, said, “We have been waiting for over an hour. We did not expect such inefficiency.”
As the voters got restless, arrangement were made to accommodate senior citizens in an air-conditioned classroom.
A number of help desks were arranged outside the centres to help voters who did not get the booth slips find their booths easily.
However, many voters were also miffed that the Election Commission and Chennai Corporation officials did not issue booth slips which could have helped them.
An official with another booth in Chennai South constituency said, “Each EVM has the capacity of 1,400 votes and we expect 100 per cent by evening 6 pm.”
All the booths began the voting process on time with basic facilities in place. Drinking water, chairs at waiting area, ramps for wheelchair-users and elderly, toilet facility being some of them.
In areas with diversions and junctions had installed make-shift wooden arms to cordon off the area.

Another official posted at a centre with eight booths said, “We have 36 election officers and four micro observers. Polling has been a going without any problems so far.”

Many political parties also put up help desks with their details of centres, booths and were helping people reach the stations. The help desk had the flags of their respective political parties.

The desks were stationed 100 and 200 meters away from the polling booths and claimed they would oblige and remove the flags if the Election Commission wanted wanted them to.

All the centres had the presence of paramilitary and police who were seen guiding people to their booths.

Photos: A R Jayakumar

Naomi N