The Election Commission has rolled out a red carpet for 9,776 first-time voters, including two centenarians, in West Bengal’s Cooch Behar district, for the May 5 sixth and final phase of the state assembly elections when the region goes to polls.
Voting will take place in five assembly constituencies in the erstwhile enclaves in Cooch Behar across 38 polling stations and 9,776 electors will get a chance to exercise their democratic right for the first time.
“There are five model polling stations with facilities of sitting, wheelchairs etc. Besides, we are rolling out carpets for the electors in these booths because they are first timers. It is an important event for them,” Ayesha Rani, additional district magistrate of Cooch Behar, said.
The 51 enclaves which were transferred from Bangladesh are now spread across Mekhliganj, Sitalkuchi, Sitai, Dinhata, Natabari and Tufanganj assembly constituencies in Cooch Behar district and are home to a population of 15,786, including the 9,776 voters. “Till now, we have reports of two residents who are above 100. Both reside in Dinhata. There are many 18 year-olds,” Rani said.
Since the primary challenge was to reach out to each and every one of these former enclave dwellers (as per Election Commission guidelines) in an area with poor infrastructure, Rani said three dummy booths were set up with electronic voting machine models and Voter-verified paper audit trail to help the voters become acquainted with these key elements. According to District Magistrate P Ulaganathan, for the first time, summary revision of rolls and the election process was going along simultaneously.
“This is the first time that process of enrolment was being done while the election process was on,” Ulaganathan said.