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How children harass, influence voters: an open letter to EC

Ban their entry to election booths or lower the voting age, but a person has to be free to vote in peace and without harassment. An exasperated parent's appeal to the poll panel.

india Updated: Apr 11, 2014 10:58 IST
Anju Yadav
Anju Yadav
Hindustan Times

Dear Mr Election Commissioner,

This is to bring to your notice that today on April 10th I was almost bullied into voting for candidate X. While you have naively allowed children to accompany their parents right up to the EVMs, what do I do when my right to secret ballot is violated. And, worse, by my teary-eyed 7-year-old.

Up and about at 7am, she excitedly accompanied us to the booth "to see how one votes". Somewhere midway on the short walk she started pestering if she could also vote. Never one to let go of such an opportunity to hammer in some 'values', I helpfully explained how she was yet to come of age when she could decide which candidate would be the best. "But, I know who to vote for and why," she retorted. (I will not divulge her preferences or views on parties, but I must assure you she surely has some strong arguments to bolster her equally strong views.)

Helpless, I tried pacifying her by offering to take her inside to see the world's biggest democracy at work. Happily, she stood in the queue, occupying herself with the paintings on the nursery class-cum-polling booth and looking wistfully at the swings at a distance. But as soon as we reached the door and waited for our turn, it started.

"Who will you vote for?" she asked. I repeated the hundredth time that it was rude to ask that and that I was not obliged to divulge that even to my husband, or mother, or father. Then she summoned little tears to accompany her, "Please vote for …." Again, I tried reasoning that she should not be telling me who to vote for.

But, by that time she was on the verge of crying out aloud. Thankfully, just then the policeman at the door signaled us to go in. I hoped that someone would stop my daughter from going to the enclosed corner housing the EVM. None, however, took any notice. She was eagerly awaiting my choice. And I had no choice but to order her to turn while I voted.

She obliged grudgingly and implored one last time, "but you please vote for …"

Now, whether you ban her entry to a booth for the next two general elections or, perhaps, lower the voting age, I want to be free to vote for the candidate of my choice.

Best regards,

A conscientious voter