Ahead of the Presidential elections on July 18, a Vistara Airlines plane ticket was booked for a rather unusual passenger - Mr Ballot Box.
Yes, the ballot boxes for the presidential election are 'flying' as passengers to reach a majority of the state capitals where they will be used for the July 18 poll. Each has been allotted an aircraft seat. Flying the ballot boxes is just one of the exhaustive tasks that the Election Commission carries out to ensure timely and fair elections.
The election for the next President of India will be held on July 18 in which 4,809 electors comprising MPs and MLAs will vote to elect incumbent Ram Nath Kovind's successor, the Election Commission of India (ECI) had said in June.
A look at the logistical side of conducting a Presidential elections like India
Distribution and dispatch
The ECI has started distribution and dispatch of all necessary material required for the successful conduct of the 16th presidential election. The ballot box and other important poll material for the upcoming presidential election were on Wednesday brought to the premises of the Delhi Assembly and stored in a strong room.
This two-day exercise at Nirvachan Sadan in Delhi for dispatch of election material to states and UTs in a time-bound and secure manner is being undertaken under the supervision of Chief Election Commissioner Rajiv Kumar and Election Commissioner Anup Chandra Pandey, the official said. The material includes designated ballot box, ballot papers, special pens, and other sealed important election material sent by the ECI.
The ECI mandates the collection of materials from its headquarters in Delhi by AROs, including one senior officer from the office of the Chief Electoral Officer (CEO). Pursuant to that, a representative of the CEO of Delhi was also present during the receiving of the ballot box and other important election material.
Further, after collecting the ballot box and other important material from the ECI, it was brought to the Delhi Vidhan Sabha premises through a short road journey. The ballot box and other important relevant election material were then kept in a strong room located on the ground floor of the building.
The strong room was sanitised prior to storage of the material and properly sealed under strict videography monitoring and other appropriate security measures.
Separate tickets are booked for the ballot boxes in the name of "Mr Ballot Box" are snd 'he' is seated in the front row of aircraft beside the seat of the officer transporting the poll material such as ballot papers and special pens to mark votes.
While 14 ballot boxes will be dispatched on Tuesday, 16 will be sent out on Wednesday. The ballot box meant for Parliament House and Delhi Legislative Assembly are likely to be dispatched on Wednesday.
Not all are taking the aerial route, however. The ballot box meant for Himachal Pradesh would travel by road, officials said.
Rules for Transporting Poll Materials
The assistant returning officer from the state and one official from the office of the state chief electoral officer are supposed to visit the Nirvachan Sadan, the EC headquarters in New Delhi, to collet the poll material. They are mandated to return to the state capital the same day.
Once the ballot boxes and ballot papers reach the state capitals, these are stored in previously sanitised and properly sealed strong rooms and the process is videographed.
After the poll is over, the polled and sealed ballot boxes and other election material have to be transported back to the office of returning officer -- this time it is the Rajya Sabha secretary-general -- by the next available flight.
The boxes and other documents are carried personally in the aircraft cabins -- never out of sight of accompanying officers.
Voting is held in Parliament House and state legislative assemblies and elected MPs and MLAs -- not the nominated -- are entitled to vote.
While speaking to the assistant returning officers, Chief Election Commissioner Rajiv Kumar emphasised that strict adherence to procedures by the EC teams has become its hallmark in delivering error-free elections time and again.
He said a set of well-defined instructions and standard operating procedures that are required to be followed thoroughly to complete every electoral process account for EC's robustness for conducting elections.
He asked the officials to be vigilant and ensure strict adherence to protocols and guidelines for transportation and storage of election materials, including ballot boxes and ballot papers, the poll panel said in a statement.
Meanwhile, the. race for the next President of India has heated up with a majority of analysts and observers expecting NDA candidate and former Jharkhand Governor Droupadi Murmu to bag the prestigious role and become the first tribal woman to become President of India. Former union minister Yashwant Sinha is the joining Opposition nominee.
While MLCs are not entitled to vote in the Presidential poll, all 70 members of the Delhi Legislative Assembly will cast their vote to elect the 16th President of India. Counting for the poll will take place in the national capital on July 21, after all ballots from states are brought to Delhi. Kovind's term ends on July 24 and an election for the next president has to be held before that day.
(With inputs from PTI)