Citizen associations in parts of Bangalore are gearing up to get residents to register as voters for the upcoming Bangalore graduate constituency election. The election to the position of MLC (Member of Legislative Council) will be held before June 2012. Residents can enrol themselves as voters before November 5th.
Graduate constituency election is one in which only residents with a graduate degree or equivalent educational qualification can vote. Voter should be a resident of the constituency and been a graduate from any Indian university for at least three years before November 1st. Even if you have voter identity cards, you need to register separately as graduate voters.
One MLC will be elected from Bangalore graduate constituency, which includes Bangalore Urban, Bangalore Rural and Ramanagaram. Graduate constituency election is held once every six years. In the last election of 2006, Ramachandra Gowda of BJP was elected from Bangalore constituency.
Gowda was made Medical Education minister in B S Yedyurappa government, but resigned in September 2010 after corruption charges were levelled against him.
Registration for voters started on October 1st as per a notification issued by the Chief Electoral Officer (CEO), Karnataka. The notification was also published in newspapers.
Since many citizens are unaware of the election process, citizen associations are taking initiative to spread information. Arbind Gupta, member of Forward 150 (Federation of RWAs of ward 150, Bellandur), says that there is interest among residents to register as voters. “We are working at different levels to get residents to register. But applications have to be submitted individually. If resident associations could submit applications in bulk, it would be easier."
There are 75 members in the Legislative Council (upper house in state assembly), of which 61 are nominated by Governor, MLAs and local governments. Of the remaining 14, seven are elected from graduate constituencies and seven from teachers’ constituencies (where only teachers can vote – election to Bangalore teachers’ constituency will be held in 2014).
In the 2006 election, around 70,000 people’s names were in the voter’s roll, says D M Shivakumar, Tahsildar (Administration) at the Regional Commissioner’s Office, who is involved with preparing the electoral rolls. S N Jayaram, Regional Commissioner for Bangalore, acts as the Electoral Registration Officer (ERO), who is in-charge of registration for Bangalore graduate constituency. His office accepts registration forms and has a help desk for providing information.
The notification for registration will be republished in newspapers on 15th and 25th October. Public can file objections anytime between October 1st and November 5th. Objections will be disposed off by December 9th and the final voter rolls will be published on December 12th.
How to register as a graduate voter?
Form for registration (form 18) can be downloaded from here, or can be collected from designated officers. The filled forms can be submitted with these officers too – 39 officers have been designated for entire constituency. Of them 21 are Revenue Officers from BBMP, and the rest are Tahsildars, Deputy Commissioners of Urban district/BBMP etc (full list is at the end of this document). Though the forms can be either handwritten or downloaded from the site, they can be submitted manually only at the designated offices.
Shivakumar says that public can collect applications from BBMP ward offices too. "So far 50,000 registration forms have been issued. If there is any shortage, photocopies of forms can be used. ERO can increase the number of designated officers if there is need,” he says.
Documents needed for registration
While submitting the form, applicants should also bring their original degree certificate or mark sheet as proof. If original certificate is not available, these are the other documents they can submit
– A copy of the degree certificate or mark sheet attested by Tahsildars/Principals of Govt degree colleges or inter colleges/ Joint Block Development officers/ Gazetted Executive Officers of BBMP.
– A copy of the registration card issued by the University which authenticates them as a registered graduate.
– A copy of relevant entry in the roll of registered medical practitioners/advocates/chartered accountants/engineers etc can also be submitted.
– An affidavit from the applicant supported by a certificate from the head of department/principal of the college or Registrar of the university under which he studied
In case of government employees, a certificate issued to the employee by the gazetted head of his office will suffice. This certificate should be based on government records with the officer.
Too many registrations too little time
Applications can be submitted in bulk only in two scenarios – one, head of an organisation for his employees; second, individual submitting forms of family members.
Gupta says that the number of designated offices is too few and that the deadline for registration should be extended. “There is only about a month to complete the registration. The government machinery is not equipped to handle this; probably they do not expect public to register.”
According to estimates, Bangalore has about 8-14 lakh graduates – a size comparable to the total population of Mysore. But citizens have only about three weeks left to register as voters.
S N Jayaram says that it is up to citizens to take initiative. “The election is for graduate voters – they are educated and notification was published in newspapers.” In the first week his office had received only two applications for registration.
But there is confusion about the process itself as the contact numbers in many designated offices are said to be wrong. When Citizen Matters randomly contacted the offices of eight designated ROs, four of the contact numbers were found to be wrong; in the other four offices ROs were out on inspection or other work.
J Srinivasan, a Koramangala resident who is part of the online community Koramangala Matters, says, “Many contact numbers given in the notification are not working. Many residents are uninterested only because the registration process is cumbersome.” ⊕
*An estimate as per 2001 census of Bangalore, and the Juxt Indian Urbanites 2009 study on educational level in urban areas.