Delhi’s model polling stations – where the voter is VIP

New Delhi, April 11: Equipped with facilities like e-rickshaws to ferry voters, drinking water, ambulance-on-call, sign language experts for the hearing impaired and courteous attendants, Delhi’s 70 model polling stations were a hit among voters.

“I could not vote during the Delhi assembly elections as my name was missing from the voter’s list. But this time I voted, and got double lucky as the booth I cast my ballot in turned out to be a model polling booth,” Abdullah Hamid, a college student, told IANS.

“I used to think that polling stations are ill-maintained and there are no facilities for voters. But this booth came as a pleasant surprise. All polling stations should be ‘model booths’,” the 23-year-old added.

The booths, laid with a red carpet decorated with flowerpots on either side and attendants to assist those who on wheelchairs, were hailed by the voters.

The e-rickshaws ferried voters from the gate to the door of the polling station.

The concept was introduced during the December assembly poll in Delhi when the Election Commission set up nine model polling stations – one in each of the nine districts of the national capital.

After winning wide appreciation from voters, the poll panel decided to have one model polling station in each of the state’s 70 assembly constituencies for the Lok Sabha election.

“We want to replicate the initiative and convert every polling booth into a ‘model’ station,” chief electoral officer Vijay Dev said.

“The welcoming environment and arrangements impresses voters and inspires them to vote,” he added.

Some of the model polling stations set up Thursday were in Okhla, Karol Bagh, Greater Kailash, R.K. Puram and Green Park areas.

Among other arrangements to woo voters at the model polling stations were brightly painted welcome hoardings.

“It was a pleasant surprise; the attendants themselves walked up to me and offered to push the wheelchair for me. I have always had to take a family member along to cast my vote,” wheelchair-bound Karan Singh told IANS.

Separate sitting arrangements with drinking water facilities were also made available at all the model polling stations, so that voters did not have to stand in long queues.

“This is the first time I have witnessed so many arrangements at a polling booth just to give voters a pleasant voting experience,” said Elizabeth Simon, 65.

“During the last election, I faced impatient officials with unpleasant behaviour toward voters. This time it was so much better,” said Simon, who cast her vote in a model polling station in Green Park.