Proxy voting is as rampant as ever

Morung Express News
Dimapur / Peren | April 19 

Proxy voting, purported to be invisible to the election authorities, but an all too common happening, returned to prominently feature, this time as well, as a half of Nagaland’s electorate turned out to elect its lone representative to the Lok Sabha on April 19. 

People actually turning up to vote in person was thin, contrasting the high figures posted by the election office. In many polling stations in Dimapur district, which officially posted an estimated 76 percent voter turnout, it was not uncommon to see young people, some seemingly underage, and women milling around polling stations. Quite a few were seen openly holding more than one voting slip as ‘poll agents’ hovered around them, some signaling using hand gestures, while some huddled together whispering in hushed tones. The more audacious ones kept an eye out for potential proxy voters, and when they found one, ushering the proxy voter to stand in queue. 

“I had four slips of my family members and cast these votes, a voter in Dimapur,” nonchalantly disclosed. 

At a polling station, falling in the 2 Dimapur II seat, a surprise awaited a journalist, who was in queue to exercise his franchise. The person ahead, a young man, handed his voter slip for the customary verification by the polling official, who in turn called out the name and serial number to counter-check with the list held by the polling agents. It turned out that the voter slip was assigned to the journalist’s deceased father. The vote was invalidated after the journalist protested. 

In another part of the state, it was apparent a single person voted for an entire family. As disclosed by one woman from Mokokchung, she voted for her entire family, who were said to be “out of station.” Mokokchung district closed with an estimated 89 percent turnout. 

In Chümoukedima, one woman, a roadside vendor on the Jalukie road, said that her vote was cast by one of her family members. Brisk voting was seen at around noon at a polling station in New Jalukie, which already had around 50 percent turnout. As of 4:00 pm, Peren district posted an estimated 72 percent turnout. 

According to one villager in the 7 Peren seat, chatted up by The Morung Express, voting percentage generally tends to be low in his village. He attributed this to limited proxy voting.