This time, bus drivers on poll duty may get to vote

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The ones who facilitate your voting have very often not been able to caste their votes. The reason: they are usually posted away from their respective voting booths.

Among these facilitators are the hundreds of bus drivers hired by the Election Commission (EC) to transport electronic voting machines and poll personnel to polling booths across the State.

While Karnataka State Road Transport Corporation (KSRTC), Bangalore Metropolitan Transport Corporation (BMTC) and North West and North East Transport Corporations provide over 8,000 buses to the EC, more than 2,000 private stage carriages are hired in areas where RTCs have little presence. These buses are also used for the movement of State and central police forces.

Ramesh Kumar, a driver with the BMTC, told The Hindu that though he was eager to exercise his franchise, he could not as he was on poll duty. “The authorities should make some arrangements to help drivers like me vote,” he said.

Taking up the issue of the drivers, the KSRTC Staff and Workers’ Federation wrote to the EC to provide postal ballot facility, according to federation general secretary H.V. Ananthasubba Rao.

KSRTC Managing Director N. Manjunath Prasad also wrote to the Chief Electoral Officer, Karnataka, to facilitate drivers to cast their vote through postal ballot. In a recent letter to the CEO, Mr. Prasad said RTCs declared a holiday on voting day to enable employees to exercise their franchise. Personnel on emergency duty and the crew operating skeletal services too are allowed to cast their votes. However, drivers on poll duty are unable to exercise their right, he said, and urged the commission to provide postal ballots.

‘May be postal ballot’
Chief Electoral Officer Anil Kumar Jha told The Hindu that the commission was working on modalities to achieve this. “It could either be postal ballot or something similar,” he said. The facility was provided during the 2013 Assembly polls, he added.

A senior BMTC officer said many drivers could not exercise their franchise in 2013, as they had not taken electoral photo identity cards/numbers with them. “We are educating them not to forget to carry the card this time,” he said.

Meanwhile, personnel from the State police will be allowed to exercise their franchise through postal ballot. Bangalore City Police Commissioner Raghavendra H. Auradkar told The Hindu that he has taken up the matter with the commission.

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