Polling regulations provide obstacles to voters in Tennessee receiving symbols

MDMK principal secretary Durai Vaiko presented himself as the DMK-led alliance’s candidate for the Tiruchy seat and requested votes for his “matchbox” symbol in the general election via an IVR or pre-recorded call that district residents received over the last several days.

A few days before he started using this kind of canvassing, a guy who seemed to be in his 50s was featured in a video clip that went viral on social media. When asked what he thought about the parliamentary election in the video, the guy said he would vote for the “rising sun” emblem.

He continued to defend his decision by saying that his wife’s medical costs were covered by the monthly honorarium that the DMK government offered for women. Then the guy filming the video told him that the DMK coalition was running in Tiruchy under the emblem of a “matchbox.” In response, the guy said it was the only time he realized it.

In another instance, DMK alliance activists coordinated the driving of a large “pot,” the election emblem of VCK leader and candidate Thol Thirumavalavan, by a load truck in order to spread awareness of it in the Chidambaram constituency. The more well-known AIADMK “two leaves” must also be taken on by the “pot” in this situation.

It has been difficult for parties, especially the DMK alliance, to get their candidate and poll symbol in front of the entire electorate in the Tiruchy and Chidambaram constituencies, especially with only hours left for candidates to canvass for votes and restrictions in place like a ban on using graffiti and posters for promotion in urban areas. Parties also implore the electoral commission to take into account the constraints they encountered and resolve them, if not for the April 19 election, then at least for subsequent ones.

An activist from Srirangam named Viduthalai Arasu said, “If graffiti is permitted in countryside, why not allow it in cities? In metropolitan areas, the electoral commission may permit it on private walls. In some places, such as rural ones, it may impose requirements such as obtaining the owners’ consent. In city pockets, the electoral commission itself may install boards with the names of the candidates and their corresponding emblems. This would, in a sense, boost voting participation. How can a voter with little knowledge make an educated choice?

M Senthilathiban, the treasurer of the MDMK, said, “The electoral commission has been biased from the start. Physically delivering the emblem to the electorate is an enormous undertaking. Since we have a solid coalition with several parties, we are knocking on doors. The commission must guarantee a fair competition, but by enforcing its regulations, it is actually complicating the procedure.

In agreement with Arasu, Senthilathiban said, “Wall posters with candidate names and their corresponding emblems at all PDS outlets and government buildings in every constituency should be permitted if the commission is really serious about free and fair elections. Making ensuring the public is well-informed before to voting should be the responsibility of the electoral commission. That will only result in a robust democracy at that point.

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