Political blames and balms have kept the pot boiling for the past five years. With parties crossing boundaries, no dull moments, though lack of dignity was often seen.
Now we have the real elections to the Lok Sabha. Should we be voting? A moot question. Don’t even ask. Speak through your ballot.
If you have not registered as a voter yet, do so immediately, as March 16th is the last date for registration. “The last date for voter registration would be 10 days before the last date of candidate nomination. In Bangalore, the last date for candidate nomination is March 26th. This means, the last date for voter registration here is March 16th,” says Lokesh Kumar, District Election Officer for BBMP Central.
Check your name in the voter rolls
Having a voter ID card does not guarantee that your name is in the electoral rolls. And you can vote only if you are included in the rolls. CEOs (Chief Electoral Officers) had published the latest version of electoral rolls this January. Check if your name is included, at the National Voters Services Portal (www.nvsp.in or https://electoralsearch.in). If you get your voter details here, consider it valid.
How to search for your name in the rolls? If you have a voter ID card, also called Elector’s Photo Identity Card (EPIC), search the voter rolls using your EPIC number which appears on the top of the ID card. The format of EPIC number is three alphabets in capital letters, followed by seven digits.
If you do not have a voter ID card, you can search by your name. In the voter database, your name or relative’s name might have been entered differently from how you generally use these. The system does not have a fuzzy search facility – which means it can’t identify a name spelt wrongly – but it can identify part of a name. If you do not find your name in the first attempt, search again by entering only the first name or only the last name of yourself and the relative. Repeat with various combinations.
You can also call helpline 1950, and ask for the details of your name entry in the electoral roll.
When you find your name in the rolls, note down your booth address, part number, and serial number in the part.
Patience! The websites may be very slow to respond.
But what if you are not on the rolls?
If your name is missing from the electoral rolls or if you have never registered as a voter or if your name is registered in a place you do not currently live in, you can register as a voter. The procedure is the same in all these cases.
Use Form 6 to register as a voter and to change constituency.
Submit your application at the office of AERO (Assistant Electoral Registration Officer). Details of the AERO for each area are available at the CEO Karnataka website.
Follow these steps to register:
- Download Form 6 from here
- Enter EPIC number and other details, if you have already enrolled elsewhere
- It’s optional to enter disability status, email ID and mobile phone number
- If you are aged 21 or above, give a declaration that you have not registered before, if that is the case
- Wrong practices by authorities at this stage:
- Not acknowledging applications: AERO should tear off the acknowledgement slip from your application, sign it and give it back to you; but this is seldom done
- Not communicating the decision made: The officer should communicate the decision made on your application by post, but this is never done
- Demanding proof of deletion from the previous part
- Not processing online applications
- Not accepting officially allowed identity and residence proofs
- Next, submit documents
- Proof of Date of Birth
- Proof of residence, which includes even a letter received at the address
- Outstation students without residence proof can instead submit a declaration certified by their institute
- Homeless citizens do not have to give any proof. The Booth Level Officer (BLO) can verify the area they live in, and allow their registration
- Get voter ID card
- After submitting Form 6, check its status at the CEO Karnataka website. If the status is not shown even after a month, approach the AERO
- If rejected, ask for the reason. Appeal within 15 days, by a letter to the AERO/ERO
- Confirm that your name is in the electoral rolls by searching the NVSP website
- When the electoral rolls are published, confirm that your name is in the rolls
- EPIC is supposed to be sent to you by speed post. However, it is seldom sent. You can collect it from the AERO office
Wrong data in the electoral rolls can disqualify you from voting, even if the errors were caused by authorities.
At www.nvsp.in, select ‘Apply online for registration of new voter/due to shifting from AC’. Filling the form is simple. Details of the documents to be uploaded are referred in Form 6, to be download here.
Unfortunately, the ERO staff often do not know the rules and create their own rules. You do not have to submit any affidavit or proof not mentioned in Form 6. ECI and CEO Karnataka have clarified this by policy letters to EROs. You can tell the ERO staff that CEO Karnataka letter DPAR 40 CUMAPA 2016, dated 23/04/2016, clarifies this issue.
To Vote or Not to Vote, and the NOTA
We can be cynical about the system and politicians. We can blame the ECI and the CEOs for poor management of electoral rolls. We may as well blame the weather. But we are part of this system and have no way to withdraw. By not voting, we may help an undeserving person win the election.
Don’t be demoralised that voter turnout is poor in cities like Bengaluru. In fact, the turnout is far better than what gets reported after the elections. As accepted by the Karnataka CEO in an interview with the Times of India, published on March 6th, the electoral rolls have large number of illegal entries. Let us be happy that the calculated turnout is not high, because high turnout despite fake entries in the rolls would mean fake votes. For now, let us keep aside the issue of poor quality of electoral rolls. It will take time to clean the stable.
Whom to vote for, would be the next question. Read the manifesto of the candidate and his/her party. Are the promises practical, and claims real? Are they for the common good of the country, or to appease and woe certain sections of society?
The Association for Democratic Reforms (ADR) is doing a great service by publishing data based on the affidavits filed by candidates before elections, at www.myneta.info. Here we can learn about the personal assets and educational qualifications of politicians, and criminal cases against them. We hope that, before the election, ADR will publish the data on first-time candidates.
Evaluate your candidates before voting. If you find none deserves your vote, choose NOTA (None Of The Above) option at the end of the EVM. It is an important message to the political parties that we reject the quality of candidates they field.