Now due to EVM machine, counting of votes is done in less time.
Tea pot in one hand and eyes and ears towards the polling booth. Laxman Rekha of bamboo sticks all around and information about votes coming in bits and pieces, sometimes made my heartbeat increase and sometimes my face turned red with happiness. In one part of the ground, there was a queue for puri-sabzi and in the other part there was discussion of the stories of the candidates. It may be from morning to evening at the polling station, but the enthusiasm of the candidates, supporters and common people did not diminish. This scene was seen at the polling stations when there were no EVM machines to count votes quickly. Counting of votes was done through ballot paper.
People’s hearts, minds and eyes were focused towards the counting pandal. Somewhere sitting on the walls and somewhere hanging from tree branches, looking towards the counting centre, they seemed curious to know the results of each cycle. Sometimes it would take even 48 hours for the results of counting to come.
It was common for votes to take 24 hours to count.
The crowd would rush towards every person coming out of the counting campus to know the updates. Sometimes he had something to say and sometimes we had to make do with his silence. When a candidate came ahead in the trend, his supporters used to declare victory in such a way that it even became a reason for conflict with the other candidate. But there were complete security arrangements.
Due to restrictions and strictness of living within the boundaries of the counting campus, the adjacent roads remained jam-packed. The crowd gathering at food shops and carts and the heated debates amongst them further increased the temperature. From time to time, amidst the ups and downs of counting, there was a different excitement between the candidates and their supporters.
The first two-three hours were spent in opening the ballot box and making bundles of ballot papers. It was common for the counting of assembly elections to drag on for 24 hours. It was not surprising that the Lok Sabha seats would be decided in the afternoon or evening of the next day or even the next morning. Where the issue of recounting got stuck, there was further delay. This was the counting of votes in the era of ballot paper.
Scenes were different then
Now the date of counting of votes of five states is near 3rd December. Once again the wonders of EVM will be visible. The trends will start coming as soon as it opens at 8 in the morning and by 10 o’clock the picture of the results will start appearing. A lot will seem certain between eleven and twelve o’clock. By this time, the enthusiasm of the winners will be sky high while the faces of the losers will be seen hanging. But in the ballot paper era, the scenes from voting to counting were different.
Then the votes of each candidate are in a separate box.
The process of the country’s first general elections lasted for about four months. These elections were held between 25 October 1951 and 21 February 1952. Of the 17,32,12,343 voters in the elections held for 497 Lok Sabha seats and 3,283 state assembly seats, 85 percent were illiterate. Nevertheless, 10,59,000,00 voters had exercised their right. These elections were more interesting in the sense that there were separate boxes for the candidates for their names and election symbols.
At the time of voting, the voter used to put his ballot paper in the box of the candidate of his choice. Obviously, in this election, when the candidate’s box was opened at the time of counting, all the votes cast in it were considered in favor of that candidate. With this method of voting, the employees on election duty appointed inside the voting center or the agents of the candidates posted there could easily guess in whose favor the scale was tilting there. Even though this was the first election of independent India, the voter was conscious about his vote and also curious about the results. Even then the crowd had gathered and stood outside the counting campus day and night.
The method of counting kept changing
Moving forward from the experience and learning of the first election, there were changes in the methods of counting votes in the coming elections. It was quite interesting when the results of the boxes of each polling station were known separately. Even before the boxes were opened at such places, estimates began to be made about the strength of the candidate or his supporters at that particular place.
Amid increasing incidents of retaliation and violence in many areas after counting, the method of combining votes from boxes of a certain number of polling stations and then counting them has made it difficult to know the pros and cons of a candidate at a particular booth or polling station. Had given.
Always complained about government food and drink
In the era of EVMs, the role of counting agents of candidates has become quite limited. But in the era of ballot paper, candidates in the main contest needed alert and combative agents at the counting table. His eyes were on the seal of every box that was opened and at the time of counting, if the stamp recorded on every vote was seen touching a particular box, there would be questions about its validity. In such disputes, the counting would either stop for some time or its pace would get blocked.
Election duty has always been a headache for government employees. Then when the counting continued for a long time, it would have become a bigger problem for them. The election staff would arrange for their food. Be it the lunch or dinner packets or breakfast distributed between them and the security staff, there was a common complaint earlier as well about the poor quality of it and it continues even today.
The packets show how much happiness there is
Arrangements for counting agents are made by the candidate. Earlier, during the long period of counting, this was arranged for several times. Now this need has become quite limited. At that time, the happiness of whoever was winning was visible till the end in the quality and quantity of these packets. Those who remained on the losing track, their hands became tight in every next installment.
The thrill of waiting for the results was different
In view of increasing security needs, traffic is now restricted well in advance of the counting venue. Obviously, it is not possible for anyone except pass holders to enter that place. These pass holders are also not allowed to use mobile phones inside the centre. Since the common man interested in the election results could not reach the counting venue, the experiences of excitement and thrill of the crowd at the counting venue have been etched in the minds of the older generations.
It is interesting that during that period, the crowd gathered day and night at the counting venue used to run towards the exit to get piecemeal information about their Lok Sabha or Assembly election results. Today, one is getting information every moment from one’s area to every seat in the country and state in front of one’s mobile phone or TV screen at home. But there was something different about the excitement and thrill in that long wait for the results.
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