New Delhi: Young voters show their forefinger marked with indelible ink after casting vote during the sixth phase of 2019 Lok Sabha polls, in New Delhi, on May 12, 2019. . Image Source: IANS News

New Delhi, May 12 : Model polling booths -- an initiative of the Election Commission -- were the centre of attraction for the electorate across Delhi who turned up at these booths to exercise their franchise.

Cool air blowing from special air coolers at the entry gate and one rose being gifted to each voter surprised all, leading them to feel it was an arrangement similar to any festive occasion.

Besides, colourful tents covering the entire distance from the entrance gates to the polling booths established inside the school buildings was also a soothing experience for the voters.

Unlike the usual polling booths, garlands were hanging on the entry gates and carpets were laid on the ground making it a unique experience for the voters when they arrived at these model booths at 7 a.m. to cast their votes.

Chairs for taking rest, special volunteers for helping voters to find their right polling stations, coffee vending machines, health kits, waiting area and creche facilities for the kids coming with the electorate were among the other unique initiatives at these booths.

Of the 13,816 polling stations established at 2,700 locations in all the seven parliamentary constituencies in Delhi, 70 were model polling booths -- one in each assembly constituency -- to attract thousands of voters. There are over 1.43 crore voters on Delhi's electoral rolls. Of the total electorate of 1,43,16,453, 78,73,022 are male and 64,43,431 female, while 669 belong to the third gender.

The model polling stations also offered clean drinking water facilities.

Arvind Gupta, a police officer deputed at the Ashok Nagar model polling booth in East Delhi parliamentary constituency, told IANS: "Such booths are not less than a small festive arrangement. People really enjoyed it, specially those who turned up after 10 a.m. They felt relaxed with the cool air and a rosy welcome at the entrance of the booth after facing the scorching heat outside."
"Chairs in the waiting area and cold drinking water facility are really a good step," said Priyanshu Rai, a first time voter from Mayur Vihar Phase III.

Darpana Vaish, a resident of GD Colony, told IANS that she had never seen such facilities in any polling station ever before.

Model booths are aimed at attracting voters to encourage them to cast their votes, Anganwadi employee Vibha Upadhyay, who was deputed at the Bharti Public School polling booth in East Delhi, told IANS.

Upadhyay was deputed at the booth to handle the creche facility for the kids accompanying the voters.

Showing a list of 54 voters who handed over their kids to her before going to exercise their franchise, Upadhyay said: "A group of our team members are taking care of these children. We note down names, contact numbers, voter ID card details of each voter who leaves his or her child here in this temporary creche."
A group of three Class 12 students of a government school in Vasundhara Enclave -- Devyani, Anshul Shiva and Anuragini Bhargav -- who were active volunteers at the Bharti Public School model booth, said they were given a one-day training before their deployment at the booth.

"We were given training in sign language to help those voters who have a hearing problem. Besides, we were trained how to help other voters," they said.

(Rajnish Singh can be contacted at rajnish.s@ians.in)

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