Last year was the year in which the millennials got to vote. At least that is what it seemed like on social media, with all the inked thumbs with the marker lines. Each of the first-time voters will hold this event close to their hearts, regardless of whether it was elating or disappointing.
Like the general youth, I was excited about voting as well. The Daily Star articles regarding the tutorials on voting were a great source of information which led me to discover that I could look up the portfolios of the candidates on the Election Commission website. Even though I made a mental note to research upon this, I procrastinated till the last moment and in the end, failed to even go the website particularly because this was not an assignment.
My father said we would depart at 8 am to avoid any sort of tailbacks or discrepancies. However, the only reason I managed to wake up at ten past eight, was because my brother pushed me out of the bed. As we ventured out, the roads were eerily quiet and empty. More people and vehicles could be seen during the Eid holidays, but the day seemed to be beautiful nonetheless - pale sunshine and the cold winter wind on my face wiped off all the worries in my mind regarding any sort of unexpected events.
Being a resident of Dhanmondi, my polling centre was at Dr Malika College, which was nearby. Upon reaching the place, we saw a queue to our amazement. Thankfully, for the new voters like myself, there was a separate line. Since I was the only one, the police stationed at the gate ushered me inside, while my father and cousins stood in line. My father had instructed me about the process of voting, such as putting the seal neatly and folding the sheet before putting it in the ballot box (No, he didn’t tell me who to vote for in case you were wondering). So you could say I was somewhat prepared for this, but seeing so many police and Bangladesh Ansar around, made me a little queasy.
However, I was surprised yet again, because the police officials as well as the others conducting the event were very friendly and cooperative. Furthermore, all the directions were given along with arrows on the walls. This is hardly what I expected, considering the event to have been organised by the Election Commission.
I cast my vote just like my father had instructed me to, and I was surprised to see it being done without any sort of hassle. At the back of my mind, I expected a little intimidation or possibly some harassment, but nothing of that sort happened. I had to come back later with my ailing fupa (uncle) in a wheelchair to help him cast his vote. Even though his room was on the 3rd floor and the place had no lift, upon a request from my cousin, the polling agents actually came down to the ground floor so that my fupa could cast his vote.
Reflecting on the event, I appreciated the curtains which were used to maintain privacy. Even though such cautious methods have been in practice since long, my first time using it, left me thoroughly impressed. However, the Election Commission could have done a better job of keeping the disabled people’s voting rooms to the ground floors at places where there were no lifts. All in all, I was left with a positive impression, given how everything was so well managed even with all the limitations and constraints. The behavior of all the people involved was also highly appreciable. Even though I read some articles regarding a few alleged irregularities and some bad first-time experiences online, regardless of the results, I personally had a great experience voting.