The story of how I got my voter id in Bangalore

Support Citizen Matters - independent, Reader-funded media that covers your city like no other.

The city of Bengaluru has been festooned with banners, posters and hoardings urging us to vote. The fence facing the BBMP head office was, earlier this week, covered with pennants in Kannada and English, reminding us all that it was our duty to vote. Newspapers carried prominent ads and announcements, reiterating  the same message.

Many of us who wanted very much to vote, however, found a wide chasm between what the administration urged and its intentions to facilitate what it wanted citizens to do. I have been a voter for some decades, and exercised my franchise at every election. As a permanent resident of the city I had no reason to expect that my name would be struck off the electoral rolls.

When I went to cast my vote during the 2013 assembly elections, I was in for a rude shock – my name, I was told, was not in the list. I was asked to go from one booth to another and  check with the presiding staff, but at the end of one whole hour of trying to find out what had happened, I had to return home without voting.

So this time, when it was announced that we could register at the nearest Bangalore One from November 1, 2013, I went over on November 5. “Come after a week, we don’t have the forms yet,” they said. It is an awkward distance – too short to take a bus or auto and too far for a senior citizen to walk. I went over a second time, in the first week of December, filled up the form, and handed over photo, address proof etc.

After a month!

A month later, I checked and was told that it would take longer. The third time I went, I was asked to go ask at the Corporation office in my area (which is in the opposite direction, involving a walk of another  800 metres).

The staff at the corporation office said I had to go back to the Bangalore One centre where I had handed in my form. (This corporation office, incidentally, is on the first floor at the Jayanagar shopping complex, which means senior citizens and others having trouble climbing, get penalized – in theory there is a lift but either there is a long queue — not an orderly  queue, of course, but a free for all when the cage descends) or it is stuck on some upper floor, or there is no power. I got online and checked, and found that my name was not in the list yet.

The media announced a vigorous campaign for enrolling voters during March, with a lot of fanfare (extra counters for the whole day on  Sunday the 9th, etc) so once again I went to the first floor corporation office where I was given a  form to fill again. “Come at the end of the month and collect your card,” I was told. I went on March 26, and was told the person in charge was on ‘election duty’ and not available at the office, and to come again “later.” I asked for the mobile number of this employee and called him. He was indignant. He was  “away on election duty,” I had to come back on April 5th.

I went over at 10.15 AM on April 5th. “He comes only after 11 am,” said one employee at the BBMP office, while another said it would be best if I could come around 3 PM. “Better come on Monday, at 3 PM,” advised a helpful peon. “I have seen your card, it is ready, but  it cannot be handed over unless Mr Shiv Kumar is here.” And Mr Shiv Kumar is out on “election duty”.

‘Avarey beku, ivare beku..’

Isn’t my visit to the BBMP also connected to elections? If the card is ready and the concerned employee is away on election duty, can’t I sign for the card and collect it? “No,” avarey barbeku,” he has to come, I was told. I asked to see the supervisor, or official in charge. There was dead silence, not one of the roomful of employees would direct me or give information.

“Maybe you were not home when someone came to verify address after you filled the form at Bangalore One,” Suggested one of the employees. Unless they give a specific time and date, it is not  possible for citizens to stay home endlessly waiting for “verification.” Also, under the law, form 4 has to be left behind if someone came for verification and found the door locked. Why was no such form left in my letter box / Where is the proof that someone came to verify? No answers, of course.

Monday 3 pm saw me hauling myself to the BBMP office once again. The staff were all having lunch. I was ready to wait. But one  officer said , trying to be helpful, I would have to go to the other office,  where my property tax is paid, 800 metres away in another direction, to get my card. The man sitting next to him said, the cards will be delivered door to door, from April 10th onwards. A third employee suggested that I wait at home from 10th, and if I don’t get my card, to come back again.

How many senior citizens  will persist, in the face of such dallying and contrary instructions ? Why couldn’t the BBMP put up clear instructions, telling us where, when  and how the cards could be collected ? “Madam, the election commission has not issued clear instructions, so we are not sure of the procedure ourselves,” offered another employee. “You don’t need the card to be able to vote, you can still go to the usual booth,” added another employee. In that case, what was this whole exercise about enrolling? How much money went on publicity, banners, pennants, ads? Why do BBMP employees offer contradictory instructions – go here, go there, come again, stay home to wait for it, come next week, etc?

Finally I got it!

That was my “tipping point’. I sat down, grumbled loudly about how I was an elderly person making my seventh visit, and pulling out my media accreditation card announced that I was going to report on my experience in the newspapers.  My mobile rang at that moment, and the staff heard me say that I was at the BBMP office and was not planning to leave till my issue was resolved. That did it.

They began scurrying around, one said he had personally keyed in my details in the computer, while another advised that it would be “wrong” to complain through the media. A third instructed the computer operator to get an extra  print out and prepare my card and hand it over. Within three minutes, they had laminated a new card and handed it over to me. “If one more card is delivered at your door next week, please  return it,” they said.

I thanked the staff and left, clutching the precious piece of ID, and wanting to flaunt it like some Olympic medal. Hurrah, I got it ! At last ! ON the way home I ran into five others – all educated middle class citizens who have had their names deleted from the electoral rolls, for no fault of theirs. On what grounds ? What’s going on?

Related Articles

MLA’s spouse had three voter IDs; 25 voters in another MLA’s house in April 2013 voter list
Voter roll in Bangalore: Claims and reality

About Sakuntala Narasimhan 73 Articles
Sakuntala Narasimhan is a Jayanagar based writer, musician and consumer activist.

10 Comments

  1. Hi
    I have applied online in 2015 (Form 6 submission). Now the application status shows as ‘Field Verification Completed’. May I know what are the next steps to get the Voter Card. I do not get any clue from the CEO Karnataka portal or nor any option to post these issues.

  2. My nightmare became a reality when we four of us were denied to vote a day before the election stating that our names will not appear in the list. Four months of running around and regular follow-up has not enabled us to vote! (They promised to give it in two weeks). Even till date the website states “field verification completed”. Contacted the CEO, and the other officers’ whose names are listed on their sites…all in vain. I have been issued an Aadhar card but not a Voter ID. All the newspaper ad is just to create an illusion in those who have Voter’s ID that they are serious, but in reality, the way these officials work would not change since there is no extra benefits they get nor probably will they have any work left after the elections are over! SAD BUT TRUE THAT FOUR VOTES WERE LOST!!!

  3. reposting for the links…
    Here goes my story and lessons learnt: I’m from Odisha and living here for the last 7 years…After over a struggle of over 2 years, 4 RTI’s, 1 first appeals, one 2nd appeal, one visit to CEO Office, 5 times submitted hard copies, two calls to CEO (Anil Kumar Jha), two SMSs to CEO, numerous calls to numerous agents, numerous SMSs to numerous agents, searching details everyday in the portal..finally I succeeded in getting my voter card. In fact, now, they gave me two numbers.
    Mistake I had done:- Earlier I had selected wrong constituency while filling online form…no officer will tell you to rectify…infect they will not listen you…prepare yourself for the crisis…
    Lessons learned:
    1. Always select correct constituency while filling online form http://ceokarnataka.kar.nic.in
    2. To expedite your process, immediately file a RTI…appeal…second appeals etc. if you have not received any status https://rtionline.gov.in It will just cost Rs 10/-
    3. In need do not heritage to call Chief Electoral Officer, Karnataka Anil Kumar Jha @ 9448290830
    4. Now they have removed the contact details in http://eci-citizenservices.nic.in I think later they will again publish the mobile #’s of all Election officers..

  4. reposting for the links…
    Here goes my story and lessons learnt: I’m from Odisha and living here for the last 7 years…After over a struggle of over 2 years, 4 RTI’s, 1 first appeals, one 2nd appeal, one visit to CEO Office, 5 times submitted hard copies, two calls to CEO (Anil Kumar Jha), two SMSs to CEO, numerous calls to numerous agents, numerous SMSs to numerous agents, searching details everyday in the portal..finally I succeeded in getting my voter card. In fact, now, they gave me two numbers.
    Mistake I had done:- Earlier I had selected wrong constituency while filling online form…no officer will tell you to rectify…infect they will not listen you…prepare yourself for the crisis…
    Lessons learned:
    1. Always select correct constituency while filling online form http://ceokarnataka.kar.nic.in
    2. To expedite your process, immediately file a RTI…appeal…second appeals etc. if you have not received any status https://rtionline.gov.in It will just cost Rs 10/-
    3. In need do not heritage to call Chief Electoral Officer, Karnataka Anil Kumar Jha @ 9448290830
    4. Now they have removed the contact details in http://eci-citizenservices.nic.in I think later they will again publish the mobile #’s of all Election officers..

  5. Here goes my story and lessons learnt: I’m from Odisha and living here for the last 7 years…After over a struggle of over 2 years, 4 RTI’s, 1 first appeals, one 2nd appeal, one visit to CEO Office, 5 times submitted hard copies, two calls to CEO (Anil Kumar Jha), two SMSs to CEO, numerous calls to numerous agents, numerous SMSs to numerous agents, searching details everyday in the portal..finally I succeeded in getting my voter card. In fact, now, they gave me two numbers.
    Mistake I had done:- Earlier I had selected wrong constituency while filling online form…no officer will tell you to rectify…in fact they will not listen you…prepare yourself for the worst…
    Lessons learned:
    1. Always select correct constituency while filling online form http://ceokarnataka.kar.nic.in
    2. To expedite your process, immediately file a RTI…appeal…second appeals etc. if you have not received any status https://rtionline.gov.in/… It will just cost Rs 10/-
    3. In need do not heritage to call Chief Electoral Officer, Karnataka Anil Kumar Jha @ 9448290830
    4. Now they have removed the contact details in http://eci-citizenservices.nic.in/…I think later they will again publish the mobile #’s of all Election officers..

  6. What if in the previous elections my name was there in the voter’s list and I had casted a vote. But is it possible to vote if my name has been deleted from voter’s list now for no reason?

  7. Pankaj Garg, your name has to be on the voter’s list for you to be eligible to vote. You need to carry an id proof if you do not have a voter’s id to the polling booth.

  8. It is the same story in every city. Educated voters somehow get ‘deleted’ from the list on the last day and God forbid if they want to get into the list, the story is similar to or worse than the one narrated above. Whoever, whether the corporator, MLA or MP is contesting an election (whether municipal, assembly or General elections) must conduct much publicised voter registration drives their ward, assembly or LS constituency, irrespective of the party loyalties of the public concerned. Otherwise, well meaning folk who want to make a difference but can simply not spare the time for repeated visits to get a voter card made will just abandon the idea n remain complacent.

  9. Surprisingly ‘easy’ on the Western front. I filled in the form online and gave it to the BBMP office on ORR, near Ambedkar Inst of Tech. They asked me to come in the first week of April. My first visit last week they said come next week. This week, I was greeted by a hall full of people sifting through 100s of ID cards in different batches trying to find themselves.
    There was a book where I was to look in first. I found my name and photo and they tore it out and said your card is here in this room. Now how do you go about finding it in 100s of cards which are being sifted through by people all over? You join the process and sift through. After a while, people started sounding familiar, those in the cards that is, and I realized I might be looking through the same batches again and again. I gave up the search in half an hour and asked him what to do. “Bangalore one” he suggested. Another “queue” there with people trying to break in or form multiple parallel queues in the same place. Eventually they gave me a printout which I had to get cut through another multitasking lady behind a counter – entering data, answering queries from people who can’t take a “no, your name is not there yet” as answer, and getting to cut my voter id. Eventually I got it done, they charge Rs. 10 and then another 10 to get it laminated outside.

Comments are closed.