First-time voter Smriti Gupta was excited to cast her vote, but she didn’t know which booth was reserved for residents of her street as the signage was in Telugu. It also took Smriti a while to find the name of the candidate she wanted to vote for. “I was excited to be at a polling booth for the first time but this was a put-off for me,” she added.
Many voters like Smriti, who can’t read Telugu, had a tough time at the polling booths on Wednesday. Confusion prevailed as many non-Telugu speaking voters complained that no boards mentioned the polling booth names and numbers in English. The city has a considerable percentage of non-Telugu speaking people and many families live in localities like Kirlampudi Layout Pandurangapuram.
Atul Rathi, a resident of Balaji Nagar, had to struggle for nearly 40 minutes to locate his polling booth at Andhra University road. His wife and he came early to cast their votes to avoid the rush but were disappointed to see no sign boards in English. “This area has several North Indian families who cannot read Telugu. The officials should have at least taken note of these basic issues. A display board with polling booth names and numbers would have saved the effort of looking around in the hot sun,” said Rathi, who came to vote at the Municipal School.
Several baffled voters were seen searching for their polling booths and crowding around the officials at different centres to know about the right booth numbers. “Even the party names were written in Telugu. In a city where there is such a large number of non-Telugu speaking voters, the officials should have taken care to keep English sign boards and names. The North Indian population is as much a part of Vizag as the others and we desire good governance for our city,” said Manju Gupta, a resident of Pandurangapuram, who was one of the first voters of the locality to cast her vote at AU High School.
After almost an hour, Rajesh Somani, a resident of Dutch House Layout, could finally cast his vote in the right polling booth. “All instructions and names are written in Telugu. During rush hours, it becomes all the more chaotic to locate the right polling booth number. At least polling booth numbers should have been mentioned in English,” he said.
Adding to the confusion, a technical snag in the electronic voting machine at polling booth number 147 at AU High School led to a delay of nearly an hour.