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March 19, 2019

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Lone Indian voter awaits a poll team of trekkers

A NEARLY 20-strong team will trek through some of India’s remotest terrain to reach a single voter and collect her ballot in the country’s elections, an official said yesterday.

The huge undertaking through jungles and over hills involving polling officials, porters and police underscores the logistical challenges confronting India as it prepares to hold the world’s largest election.

From the Himalayas to the deserts and lush tropics, 900 million Indians are eligible to cast a ballot over nearly six weeks of voting starting from April 11.

One is Sokela Tayang, 39, the sole registered voter in Malogam — a tiny hamlet in the isolated and contested northeastern state of Arunachal Pradesh.

Dagbom Riba, a local election officer, said a team 15 to 18 strong would have to proceed on foot for 6 kilometers carrying a ballot box and other voting material through tough terrain to reach Malogam.

Once in the village in Anjaw district, rules dictate they must keep the voting booth open all day — even though just Tayang will be exercising her franchise.

“Even if she casts her vote in the morning, we have to remain open until 5pm in keeping with the election commission guidelines,” Riba said.

The Press Trust of India news agency reported that the tiny outpost had two voters in 2014, the other being Tayang’s husband. But he had enrolled in another electorate this time around, leaving just Tayang on the registry.

Election rules stipulate that no voter should have to travel more than 2 kilometers to cast their ballot.


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