Sir: I am a Presiding Officer (PO). I am going to perform this duty for the third time. The reason for my selection for this duty again and again is that I am a college teacher. The election commission loves to assign me this duty, but they never bothered to know what problems my colleagues and I face during the performance of our duty. My woes, as a PO, start with the day of my nomination for the duty. The Returning Officer thinks that he is a superior product of the system, and I am the child of a lesser god, so he can do anything and everything, and I don’t have the right to differ with him. The RO staff give me a list of government/semi-government employees and ask me to contact them and make sure that they perform their duties according to the orders that have been given to me by the RO. As those employees do not belong to my department and/or institution, they are least concerned about my calls and messages. It is my duty to collect the election material from a designated point one day prior to the elections, and hand it over to the RO staff at the same point after the completion of election process. Transporting the material from the collection point to the polling station is a hectic as well as insulting task, but the election commission has nothing to do with this ordeal. It is my headache and even I don’t know how I manage to spend a whole day in collecting that materialwhen, during that process, I won’t even be given any meal(s) etc. When I arrive at my polling station, I shall have to make arrangements for my overnight stay there and the election commission and the local management will not help me for this. On the elections day, I shall start my duty around 6 o’clock in the morning. The polling process starts at 8 AM and will end at 6 PM. During this process, my staff members and I cannot take a break for lunch or prayer etc. because the election commission has directed us that the polling process should be uninterrupted. After 6 PM, we shall be performing other important tasks, including counting of the ballots, and it takes about 2 to 3 hours, and at times more than that, to complete the post-polling process. After the completion of this process, I shall have to transport the election material back to the collection point without any uncalled for delay, and owing to overcrowding, it normally takes hours to hand over the material to the RO staff. Although I shall be given the powers of a Class I Magistrate, I was advised during the training sessions that I should do my best to avoid exercising these powers. This is because, in case of any untoward incident resulting from the employment of these powers, I shall have to face the consequences on my own, and the state machinery will not help me in this regard. In this scenario, the election commission asks me to perform my duty with an exemplary dedication and commitment. More than half a decade has passed since the last general elections, and little to no changes have been introduced in the election process. God knows what the election commission staff did during these years, if they were not able to introduce some effective and useful changes in the system. FAIZAN CHAUHDRY Rawalpindi Published in Daily Times, July 23rd 2018.