Essay on A Scene at An Election Booth

Elections for National Assembly, Provincial Assemblies, and Local Bodies are held according to the schedules. The elections are held through secret’ ballot papers. Generally, College and school buildings are made polling stations. A large number of trained staff-returning officers, polling officers and clerks conduct the elections. Police and Army help the civilian force if desired. Sealed ballot boxes and printed ballot papers with assigned symbols of the candidates are used for voting.

Elections for Provincial Assembly were held in the month of October 1993. The election campaigns were closed on the 24th – 48 hours before the polling day. The contesting candidates had erected their pavilions 100 yards away from the polling station, Abdullah College. Flags of political parties announced the camps. There were four candidates belonging to MQM, Peoples Party, Jamaat-e-Islami and NAP. Two were independent candidates. The main competition was between MQM and PPP.

The polling timings were from 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m, nonstopped. The voters had started pouring in the camps from early morning. The party workers helped and guided the voters with chits bearing the names and voters numbers. When I visited the station at 11:00 a.m., the voting was brisk. Large number of voters was standing in queues. Party workers were chanting slogans and singing songs. Cars and wagons were plying up and down. The workers were bringing the disinterested voters from their houses. There was quite a large number of female voters, some in burqa’ (veils). The voters had to produce their identity cards for voting.

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A large number of vendors and hawkers entertained the hungry chaps and children. Some reporters and press photographers were busy covering the scene. The Area Commander along with area DC also visited the booth. The voting inside the polling station was peaceful. Misprints and omissions of voters names were common complaints. Some polling agents also caught the bogus voters red-handed. They were handed over to the police. I cast my vote. The imprint of blue ink on the left thumb lasted for some days.

Outside, the party workers were heard making big claims. The PPP and MQM supporters were noisier. There were some minor clashes among the youths, but the police controlled the scene. On the whole, the voting was slow. The majority of the people did not use their right of franchise. By evening only workers were seen around the camps. When next morning I read the newspaper, I learned that the MQM candidate had won with an overwhelming majority.

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