Economy

EC plans to rope in students for election duty

L.N. Revathy Coimbatore | Updated on April 25, 2011

Studentsbl_11   -  Business Line



Roping in student volunteers during the by-election has been experimented in the past, but officials in the know assert that the Election Commission has, for the first time, proposed to initiate students on ‘election duty' during the ensuing general election, besides introducing laptops to record the proceedings in sensitive booths.

“The scope of the scheme is to ensure free and transparent polling process,” the Nodal and District Revenue Officer, Mr A. Shanmugasundaram, told Business Line.

When asked to explain the roll of the student community, Mr Shanmugasundaram said, “this trend is applicable across States which go to poll.”

Reverting to Coimbatore district, he said, “there are 2,168 polling stations of which, 501 have been identified as ‘critical' and another 316 as least critical by the Commission. And this is based on various parameters and inputs from various agencies.”

Under surveillance

While all the polling stations would be brought under the surveillance of an electronic eye with Web cameras doing the online recording of the polling process, laptops have been proposed to be introduced (for the first time) at the 501 polling stations that have been categorised as ‘critical', the DRO said.

‘We have mobilised adequate number of laptops through the Education Department and loaded the software supplied by the Election Commission; we have also sensitised and trained the 600-odd students on the challenges of the assignment. About 30 per cent of the students are girls,' he added.

These students have been picked from the Government College of Technology and PSG College of Technology here. They include those pursuing a Degree in Engineering in the Information Technology and Electronics and Communication streams and under-graduates from the Computer Science group.

Tech-savvy

‘These youngsters are tech-savvy, are at ease using a laptop and above all, technically sound. We don't have technical manpower in the department,' he added.

The students would also be able to lend a hand to the officials who are not conversant with sending text messages to the district control room and Chief Electoral Officer's office at specified intervals to keep them posted of the polling situation.

“At close, the laptops would also be sealed and sent. These would serve as fool-proof evidence, recorded real-time,” he said.

The students seemed quite enthusiastic about taking up such an assignment. While Mr Shanmugasundaram maintained that they would in a way be serving the country, it is learnt that the Election Commission has offered to pay them Rs 750 each.

“This is going to be a different kind of a challenge unlike the projects we do at college or prepare for a viva voce,” one girl student said.

Published on April 10, 2011

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