Hierarchy mix-up in assigning duty for polling personnel


Concern has been raised over the alleged mix-up in assigning duty to polling personnel in many polling stations in Madurai district.

According to sources, while officials from different departments in junior categories have been assigned as Presiding Officers in many polling stations, those in the rank of professors in colleges, school Headmasters or gazetted officers have been designated as Polling Officer (PO) 1, PO 2, or PO 3.

The Presiding Officer will be in charge of a polling station and has many responsibilities, including filling up of a number of forms, submission of reports, and take decisions in case of any issues. POs 1, 2, and 3 will be responsible for activities like verification of voter on the electoral roll, applying indelible ink and keeping control of Electronic Voting Machine’s control unit.

An official involved in election work in the district said that in some polling stations, while secondary grade teachers and anganwadi workers were designated as Presiding Officers, senior personnel like faculty of colleges and postgraduate (PG) assistants from schools were assigned under them as POs. “It will be a difficult task for them to execute their job as Presiding Officers since they may not have carried out that duty in the past elections. Our training sessions are also not efficient,” he said, adding that such mix-up had not happened before.

A PG assistant, who has been assigned as PO 2, said that in the past many elections he had either served as Presiding Officer or PO 1. “In critical situations, the Presiding Officer has to act quickly and take decisions, which requires capability and experience,” he said. “Our requests to change the designation have been ignored,” he added.

Sources at the District Election Office said that the mix-up happened due to inaccuracies in the feeding of data to a software, which is used to assign duty to officials to avoid human interference and bias. “The software decides the role based on the pay-scale mentioned in the forms submitted by officials. This detail was not fed properly to the software, which resulted in the problem,” an official said.

Acknowledging the issue, District Election Officer S. Natarajan, however, said that it had happened only in a few places. “It is mainly because the pay-scale details were left blank by the employees,” he said. He said that steps were being taken to reassign the duties wherever possible as per hierarchy.

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Printable version | May 22, 2022 10:29:04 am |