A first: DC reaches out to frail electors at their doorsteps in Ludhiana district : The Tribune India

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A first: DC reaches out to frail electors at their doorsteps in Ludhiana district

Over 92% aged, specially-abled vote from homes

A first: DC reaches out to frail electors at their doorsteps in Ludhiana district

DC-cum-DEO Sakshi Sawhney presents a certificate to 107-year-old Kartar Kaur Dosanjh, after she cast vote at her home in Ludhiana. TRIBUNE PHOTO



Tribune News Service

Nitin Jain

Ludhiana, May 28

In a first, Deputy Commissioner Sakshi Sawhney is reaching out to majority of the frail electors, especially those aged 85 years and above, and specially-abled ones, at their doorsteps across the 14 Assembly segments under the two Lok Sabha constituencies (nine under Ludhiana and five under Fatehgarh Sahib) in the district under the “vote-from-home” initiative launched by the Election Commission of India (ECI).

Leading a posse of 390 officials, including 312 polling and police officials (156 each), and 78 micro observers, besides booth-level officers (BLOs) and sector officers concerned, the young 2014-batch IAS officer knocked at the door of Kartar Kaur Dosanjh (107), who is among the oldest voters in the district, at Dugri, Phase 2.

Amused over seeing the DC at their doorsteps, the centenarian elector’s son Harbhajan Singh Dosanjh greeted the district head with folded hands at their not so big or palatial home.

The officials accompanying Sakshi, who is the District Election Officer (DEO) for Ludhiana, tell Harbhajan that they want to meet his mother to enable her to cast her vote from home.

Carrying the ballot box and secret ballots, reminding of old times prior to the electronic voting machines (EVMs), the polling officials, led by the DC-cum-DEO reach out to Kartar Kaur, who was sitting on a sofa.

Sakshi greeted the centenarian voter with folded hands and requested her to exercise her franchise for which they have come to her place.

“Eh taan main pehli baar vekhiya hai apni zindagi vich…ki tusi mere naal majak taan nahi kar rahe ho? (I am seeing this for the first time in my lifetime…aren’t you doing a prank with me?),” the amused Kartar Kaur asks.

On being briefed that this time the ECI has introduced this new system to facilitate the aged and persons with disabilities for casting their votes from their homes, the 107-year-old elector readily agrees to get her finger inked before making her choice on the postal ballot, which was put in the sealed ballot box carried by the officials.

“It is a good initiative by the Election Commission and district administration as the elderly and PwD voters have been given a chance to cast their votes sitting at their homes,” the aged voter’s son expressed.

The DC-cum-DEO felicitated the centenarian voter with a shawl and a certificate.

The next stop was the home of Sushila Devi (103). Here, her granddaughter Neena Jain greeted the DC-led polling team and took them to meet her grandmother, who was sitting on a charpoy. “It becomes difficult to take the elderly voters like my grandma to the polling station. It is a good initiative as my grandmother is able to cast her vote at home in a smooth and peaceful manner,” Neena said.

Raj Rani Arora (87) of Rajguru Nagar, who has been bedridden for the past seven years also discharged her duty of exercising her franchise at her doorsteps and encouraged other voters to go for vote on June 1 to strengthen the democracy.

All elderly and PwD voters and their family members expressed happiness over the ECI’s initiative and appreciated the district administration for undertaking the home voting smoothly.

Speaking with The Tribune, the DEO said 78 special polling parties were formed for conducting home voting, which consisted of polling staff, police personnel and micro observers. “The entire process has been completed by adhering to the guidelines issued by the ECI,” she said.

Sakshi, who has been on her toes overseeing the arrangements for the General Election to the 18th Lok Sabha slated for June 1 in the state’s biggest and largest district, in terms of area and population, said the initiative had been taken to make the elections more inclusive and allow the eligible voters to exercise their right to vote.

“It was delightful to see the elderly voters casting their votes at their respective houses. The administration is making all efforts to achieve the target of minimum 70 per cent voter turnout during the elections (Iss Baar, 70 Paar) and it will also add to the voter turnout,” she felt.

Meanwhile, on the first day of the two-day exercise, 838 of the total 908 electors (707 aged 85 years and above) and 201 PwD), which accounted for 92.29 per cent turnout, exercised their franchise in the district. The entire “vote-from-home” proceedings were duly videographed for ensuring free and fair polling.

Max in Ludhiana

Ludhiana has the maximum count of aged, first-time and third gender voters, according to the final electoral rolls published by the ECI.

At 27-lakh, the district, spread across 14 Assembly segments and two Parliamentary constituencies, has almost 35 per cent more electors than Amritsar, which stands second in the state with 20 lakh voters.

According to the final voters’ lists, there were 22,003 voters aged 85 years and above, 58,801 first-timers (18-19 years) and 151 third gender electors in Ludhiana district, which was the highest count in the state.

Reaching out to ensure maximum turnout: DC

“We are all set for celebrating the festival of the world’s largest democracy. The mammoth exercise comprises electoral movement of men and material. To make the process inclusive and accessible, the ECI has, for the first time in the history of the parliamentary elections, extended ‘vote-from-home’ facility to persons with disabilities (PwD) and senior citizens aged 85 and above. We are pulling all stops to ensure maximum voter turnout from this category by reaching out to the doorsteps of all such electors to enable them to cast their votes through postal ballots,” said Sakshi sawhney, DC-cum-DEO.

Vote-from-home

It was in 2019 and 2020 that the ECI had amended the Conduct of Election Rules, 1961, and introduced the novel concept of vote-from-home for senior citizens, persons with disability and Covid suspects or affected persons.

For this General Election, the age criteria for home voting (the process of reaching out to all voters who fall in the category of senior citizens) was amended to include voters with age over 85 years.

Assistant Returning Officers of the district are reaching out to all such voters through supervisors, BLOs and themselves for distribution of Form-12 (consent to cast vote through postal ballot).

About The Author

The Tribune News Service brings you the latest news, analysis and insights from the region, India and around the world. Follow the Tribune News Service for a wide-ranging coverage of events as they unfold, with perspective and clarity.

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