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Vote e-watch comes of age

At a polling booth in Pakur, Rajmahal seat, an officer on Thursday tried to speed up work by taking thumb prints of voters on the attendance sheet. Over 400km away, at the chief electoral office in Dhurwa, Ranchi, an official at the technical wing noticed this on the webcast.

“Boss, yeh kya chal raha hai? Sabhi angutha chhap de rahe hain, check karwaiye. (What is happening, everyone’s giving thumb impressions, get it checked),” the official called up Pakur district election office immediately, giving the booth number. Some 20 minutes so or later, the webcast showed voters signing.

The third and final day of Lok Sabha polls in Jharkhand on Thursday was marked by smooth webcast across all 400 polling stations where the facility was available among the total 7,457, demonstrating how the tech watchdog could actually make voting transparent.

No last moment checking of plugs, net connectivity or wi-fi glitches were apparent on Thursday. Technical officials said “dress rehearsals” were done yesterday itself.

“We have been working day and night for 26 days. This is the first Lok Sabha election where the tablet-based technology was used. Today, we are relaxed as entire system is functioning smoothly,” said Dilip Gupta, heading the technical team of Graphic Trades.

The experience of last two rounds — of 7,058 polling stations, proceedings inside 271 were webcast on April 10, while the number on April 17 increased to 600 out of 10,136 booths — proved useful.

This time, Graphic Trades arranged six large screens for viewing the live streams, one extra from last Thursday. These apart, half a dozen laptops were on standby.

Redress was prompt.

Around 9.45am, a politician called in to allege “disturbance” at a specific booth, again in Pakur Assembly segment under Rajmahal. “Pakur, by then, voted up to 24 per cent. On getting the booth number, the team checked if it was on the webcast list. Thankfully it was. The team zoomed in to check if there was any truth in the politician’s allegations. But the footage showed everything was peaceful,” said poll official Arun Singh.

Around 11am, webcast revealed power problems in Godda township. Immediately, Godda DC office was informed and the problem was rectified in 30 minutes.

By the day’s end, Jharkhand created history where the claim of free and fair elections was visible to the eye.

Webcast perhaps left many political henchmen, specialising in booth capturing and rigging, jobless.