Does Karnataka’s voter list have errors? Here’s what we know

ISSUES IN BENGALURU ELECTORAL ROLL

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Final electoral rolls are out, in the poll-bound Karnataka. There have been serious issues in the electoral rolls in the past, and this time is no exception. The quality issues in the electoral rolls of Bengaluru published at ceokarnataka.kar.nic.in website on February 28, 2018 are of the nature that could lead to denial of voting rights to many citizens.

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Following is a glimpse of voters’ woes in Karnataka ahead of the assembly elections. The Electoral Rolls Management System (ERMS) is getting worse in some areas though there are improvements in some other areas.

Data on voters of Karnataka is officially available at the following links:

  1. Electoral rolls published at CEO-KA website. Being published in scanned PDF format since November 2017, they are not searchable though they are required to be in text PDF format as per ECI rules mentioned in Manual on Electoral Rolls, October 2016, Document 10, Edition 1, published by The Election Commission of India.
  2. Search by EPIC Number/Name at CEO-KA website.
  3. Search by EPIC Number/Name at National Voters Service Portal website.
  4. Link to CEO-KA voter lists from ECI website.

We expect the data to be the same when we access them from these four links. Unfortunately, they are not.

Illustration:

Consider serial 1 of AC1690156.pdf published on 30 Nov 2017. Its EPIC# is LRJ0993428.

  1. We do not find this record in the electoral roll for the part AC1690156 published on 28 Feb 2018. It is not indicated as deleted either.
  2. A search by the above EPIC Number at CEO-KA website shows a result of the record at AC1690128, serial 883.
  3. Search by the EPIC Number at NVSP website shows a result of the record at AC1690156, serial 1. The site also states that the record is updated on 15/3/2018.
  4. Searching for PDF electoral rolls of Karnataka from ECI website shows us the electoral rolls published on 31 March 2014.

Claims and objections data published by CEO-KA at his website does not show any form-8 data (request for change of address) for the voter record in question. When the delimitation was done in the rolls published on 30 Nov 2017, why have some voters been shuffled subsequently?

Adding to the chaos and confusion, some electoral rolls miss several serial numbers. E.g., AC1600118.pdf has serial numbers in the order of 8, 14, 15, 16, 26, 27, 28, 35, … etc. If there are valid voters at the many missing serials, they can’t cast their votes. ECI has a byline reading “No Voter Left Behind” and here is an effort to exclude them in thousands.

ECI publication ibid states that:

  1. An integrated roll per part will be published once a year.
  2. Subsequent additions, deletions, and corrections will be indicated in supplements to this basic roll. The records contained in the basic roll are not changed except stamping the deleted records with a text ‘DELETED’ and prefixing ‘#’ to the serial numbers of modified records.

Summary tables on the last pages of the rolls give the counts of voters in the original roll, and the counts of additions and deletions in various supplements. The “counts of voters in the original rolls” shown in the version of February 2018 should not change from what it was in the previous version published in November 2017.

If these counts are reduced, it is an indication that voters have been excluded from the electoral roll indiscreetly, resulting in the denial of voting rights to valid voters. In the electoral rolls published on 28 February 2018, we saw the count of voters in the original part to be lower than the count of voters in the rolls of the same part published on 30 November 2017 – this happened in more than 2,000 samples. This is a serious lapse.

Several electoral rolls start with serial numbers greater than 1. For example, AC1690156.pdf starts with serial 131.

The voter list PDF files are referred by all the candidates and are also used in the polling booths. If there are errors in this list or names are missing in the list, such voters will lose their right to vote.

In view of the elections in a couple of months, Chief Election Officer – Karnataka does not have much time to correct these serious errors. Quality audit of the electoral rolls by a competent and independent person or organisation is a need of the hour.

Note: This was first published on P.G. Bhat’s blog, and is reproduced here with permissions.


About PG Bhat 23 Articles
P G Bhat is a retired naval officer and software professional, an educationist and a social worker.