Bengaluru: First time voters and the elderly stole the show as they were seen participating in the voting process enthusiastically in the Karnataka Assembly elections on Wednesday.
And they were not small in numbers. According to Election Commission (EC) officials, as many as 11.71 lakh were eligible to exercise their franchise for the first time..
Of the total eligible voters, 16,914 are centenarians and 12.16 lakh above the age of 80.
Theme-based and ethnic polling booths — 737 in all across the State — added a lot of colour to the exercise.
The excitement among the first time voters was palpable. “I am very happy to vote. This is my right”, was their “standard” comment.
In a bid to check apathy among voters, the EC had come up with an out-of-the-box idea by holding the poll in the middle of the week to prevent people planning an outing by clubbing the poll-day holiday with the weekend break.
“Date of the poll has been kept on a Wednesday. Had it been on a Monday, it would have come with a holiday of Saturday and Sunday. And had it been on a Tuesday, take a day’s off and we can go out … Wednesday is a little difficult,” an EC official said.
To draw people to use their voting rights, the EC took many initiatives such as theme based and ethnic polling booths, and pink booths exclusively operated by women.
According to the EC, it has set up 996 all women managed polling booths, 239 booths managed by people with disabilities and 286 managed by youth.
This was the first state-wide assembly election where the Vote-From-Home option was given for those elderly people who completed 80 years and were unable to reach the polling station, according to an election officer.
Boramma, a centenarian from Melagodu in Holenarasipur Taulk of Hassan district, however, chose to walk to the polling booth with a stick for support holding the hand of her son.
After casting her vote, Boramma said, “I have completed 100 years. I am happy to vote. Everyone should vote and may good happen to everyone. I have been voting for the past 60 years. I never ever missed a single election without voting”.
Many elderly voters reached the polling booths on wheel-chairs like Nagalakshmi, 84, who cast her vote at Malleshwaram in Bengaluru.
There were brides and bridegrooms in the queue who voted in multiple booths.
Sahil Dhariwal, 26, preferred casting his vote ahead of his marriage in Bengaluru.
“I am voting for the first time. Last time I could not vote because of certain reasons. This time I made a point not to miss this opportunity,” Dhariwal said.
At Periyapatna in Mysuru district, a couple queued up for voting soon after they tied the nuptial knot.
A theme based polling station at Kalaghatagi constituency in Dharwad district caught the attention with the entire polling staff wearing colourful attire of nomadic tribe Lambani.
Transgenders too did not fall behind and voted in large numbers, an EC official said.