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71-year-old casts her vote with mid-day's help

Smita Kulkarni was kept waiting by election officials, after they realised that her name was missing from the voters’ list, and someone else with the same name had already voted before her

When mid-day visited the polling centre at Ambedkar School in Kothrud, 71-year-old Smita Kulkarni was sitting alone, waiting for her chance to vote, while polling officials were in a state of confusion over her name. It was over two hours later, and with the help of this reporter, that she was eventually allowed to cast her vote through a ballot paper.

Smita Kulkarni
After waiting over two hours to exercise her right to vote, 71-year-old Smita Kulkarni was allowed to cast a ballot vote. Later, election officials neglected to mark her finger with an ink stain to indicate she had voted. PIC/ Shashank Sane

When Kulkarni approached the polling station, officers told her that her name was missing from the voters’ list. Her son, Milind, ran from pillar to post to understand what the confusion was about, and realised that another woman – a 45-year-old with the same name had already voted earlier, further adding to the confusion.

The septuagenarian, however, was adamant in her wish to vote, and that was when this reporter stepped in to assist her. On approaching one of the polling booth officers, A M Momin, he said that the matter was not in his jurisdiction. mid-day insisted that Kulkarni be allowed to exercise her franchise through ballot voting, adding we would wait as long as it takes, when the polling booth in-charge, Meena Yadav began the procedure.

The officers checked all the lists and computers for Kulkarni’s registration, and finally Yadav acceded that since Kothrud is Kulkarni’s constituency, she should be allowed to vote there. However, she had to ensure that all the other polling officers agreed, and so she went on to place the matter for their approval.

Half an hour later, after all the officers consented and Kulkarni had filed all the necessary paperwork, she was finally allowed to cast her vote. Even though the polling officers had failed to mark her finger with an ink stain to indicate that she had voted, Kulkarni was not bothered, and said, “I’m very happy to have voted at last.”

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