Monday, 20 February 2012

Vote and vote well

A few days ago, during the city’s municipal corporation elections, I cast my first ever vote.

During the run-up to the day of the elections, I was very excited to discover my voter registration details on the election commission’s website. After all, two of my previous attempts at registration had failed, and I had no reason to believe that I would succeed with my latest attempt of a few months ago. I felt a sense of victory against all the dark forces that conspire against the registration of urban middle class voters like me. Politicos of all hues find us unpredictable and unreliable, since we don’t swing to their tunes of region, community and caste, and hence focus their efforts on expanding their base elsewhere. Bureaucracy ‘stiffs’ see us as politically apathetic and individually powerless, and hence direct their energies to other registration applications brought in by eager politicos.
But this time, I was going to cast my vote. Na-na-n-na-na.
On the day of the elections I searched the website again. Half-suspecting that my details would’ve mysteriously disappeared by then. But there I found them once more, beaming at me in all their glory. I fired a colour print of my voter details on high quality executive paper. And proudly carried it to the polling station. “Internet printout, eh?”, asked the polling agent stationed outside my designated polling station. “Let me check if your details appear in the copy of the electoral rolls for this station”, he continued. The more pages he turned over without finding my name and photograph, the more his self-importance increased. And the more mine decreased. I interrupted him, “but my details are from the election commission’s website”. As though my timely interruption would make the record appear in the pages he hadn’t yet flipped through. “I know sir, but ours is the latest and most valid copy”, he declared, as he continued flipping through his papers to locate my name or photograph. Then he delivered his verdict, “your record isn’t at this polling station; maybe it’s at some other”. “Some other ?”, I gasped. “It happens”, he sighed. This was fantastic. I had about four hours before the close of polling time to visit about a half a dozen polling stations in my area and locate my record. But I was determined. Had nothing particularly better to do that day. So I rushed from one polling station to another, only to hear one polling agent after another deliver the same verdict.
As I was about to concede defeat to the dark forces and slip back again into the set that is accused of not exercising their right and duty to vote, I saw some activity at a street corner. Some respectable looking people were speaking in English and a couple of youngsters were working a laptop. I’m respectable, can speak in English, and own two laptops. So I went there too. Representatives of a newish party that hoped to attract young, educated and affluent voters were helping people locate their records and their designated polling stations. I may not be young or affluent, but I am educated, and hence promptly commissioned their services. Lo and behold ! My name appeared, albeit with a different set of voter registration details. I thanked the volunteers.
And, armed with fresh ammunition and a renewed zeal to wipe out the enemy, I jumped into my car. Told the driver about the new coordinates to take me to.
I confidently walked into the polling station, showed the security personnel my identification, and queued up outside the polling booth. My mind was so clouded with the desire and anticipation of the precious moments that were to follow, that it didn’t occur to me that I had missed the most critical part of my war strategy for the day. To ask my driver who I should vote for ! Don’t be surprised. My driver lives in a neighbourhood that knows lots about the local politicos and about their deeds and misdeeds. He used to be a dance instructor, is now married to a school teacher, nurses upward mobility aspirations, and shares my view that people should vote for candidates with great performance and behaviour. Quite qualified to be my advisor.
When it was my turn to, I submitted my credentials before the electoral officer. He said my name aloud. When none of the representatives of the various political parties objected that I was a bogus voter, he directed me to the polling enclosure. Here I was, all to myself, and salivating at the electronic voting machine. When it struck me that I didn’t know who to vote for. That none of the names of the candidates was even vaguely familiar. So I did what I had gone there for. To exercise my right and duty to vote. Beep.
Even if it was for god-knows-who from god-knows-which-party.
I don’t like politics and politicians. I know that our city is going from bad to worse despite electing different representatives and parties to power. I know that manifestos and promises are forgotten by many of the elected. Etc, etc. So I shouldn’t have felt guilty at how I’d eventually cast my vote. But I did.
In the last few years, I have never read the questions in an employee engagement survey. But have always assigned a score of 5/5 to each. I have behaved similarly while responding to leadership surveys about my peers and bosses. I admit that I didn’t feel guilty while doing so. But I should’ve.


  1. Congratulations. try disabling word recognition for your comments( I know you can't process info very efficiently- I am talking about Comment column of your blog):-) smiley to indicate I am joking.

    1. Thanks. Find no option in settings to enable or disable word recognition. I know it can be a pain sometimes when you get an error message after typing in the right captcha.