Sonawari: People say few EVMs for too many voters

Wasim Khalid
Sonawari: As people made a beeline for polling stations here on Tuesday, bulk of the voters complained that there weren’t enough Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs) to cater to the huge number of voters.
Long queues of voters snaking beyond the courtyards of schools and local Panchayat buildings housing polling stations were observed. Even the biting cold and the fog covering the swathes of this pastoral landscape couldn’t deter the people.
But the less number of EVMs and lack of technical knowhow regarding them left the voters fuming.
“I came at 7 am. Look at the rush voters. There is only one EVM for 1273 registered voters of the area,” said Raja Begum at Sarai Dangerpora polling booth in Sumbal. “I haven’t even prepared breakfast. My husband who is in the queue had not his morning tea.”
By 11 am, 200 people had cast their votes at this polling booth.
“There is only one EVM for both men and women,” Begum said. “We should at least need two or three EVMs to meet the rush of the people.”
Another voter, Abdul Manzoor Rather, who had come to cast vote at Rakh Shilwat on polling booth 84-B complained that the local officials deputed to operate the EVMs were unaware about how to even start them.
“First the officials took one hour to start the EVM. It was so painful to wait along with our women in this cold outside the polling station,” Rather said. “And when the polling started, it was not enough to cater to 926 voters. We want at least two EVMs”.
The election officials said that by 12:30 pm, 260 votes had been polled.
At some places, the voters complained that the EVMs didn’t work. They also demanded that the EVMs should be manufactured locally which could take into account the cold climatic conditions.
“These EVMs which have been brought in from different Indian states are not fit for Kashmir. The authorities should look for Kashmir-friendly machines,” the people said.
Abdul Majid Malla, who voted at Madera polling station of Bandipora constituency, said he couldn’t cast his vote because his mother was not well. “I had to go to hospital to visit mother since she was getting treated there,” Malla said. “If I have to wait at polling station, I will finish by 4 pm. I ask the officials to look into this matter”.

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