The Chief Electoral Officer, Karnataka (CEO-KA), had published on his website the latest electoral rolls – the version that was effective for this Lok Sabha election. Though the mother roll for this election was published last October, an addition/deletion drive was undertaken afterwards.
The rolls with these modifications were published twice – once on 16th January, and the final rolls on 26th March. But the final rolls appeared on the CEO-KA website on 10th April only, leaving little time to respond for those who went missing from the rolls.
CEO-KA had advertised widely inviting the citizens to register as voters. Unfortunately, officials’ actions on the ground did not match the advertisements, resulting in a loss of faith in the system. After applying, the inclusion of the name in the electoral rolls is a chance event.
Majority of the additions were done in Q1-2019, but thousands of these applications have languished beyond three months without progress. These applicants were not included in the electoral rolls this time, and lost their right to vote in the current Lok Sabha elections. Some affected people have approached the High Court complaining about this.
Conversely, many voters have found multiple entries against their name. These duplicate entries are bloating voter rolls.
Some others are shocked not finding their names in the electoral rolls though they had voted less than a year ago in the assembly elections. Even some celebrities including Kris Gopalakrishnan, the Infosys Co-founder, and the mother of Kiran Mazumdar Shaw, are now excluded from the rolls.
In Election Commission’s push for NERPAP (National Electoral Roll Purification and Authentication Programme), we find paap committed.
The table below summarises the data from the last pages of electoral rolls of 8,514 parts of Bengaluru.
The data shows that the CEO-KA had gone on a deletion spree in Q4-2018 and an addition spree in Q1-2019. These activities are based on what the CEO decides rather than what the citizens desire. CEO-KA officials make statements that they cannot delete voters unless form-7 is filed, and cannot add unless form-6 is filed. But the deletions seem to have been done randomly, without form-7 submission or even any verification by officials.
Hence, many Bengalureans who had voted in the last assembly election, and did not submit form-7, were surprised to find their names missing from the rolls. I received calls from many in the city yesterday who went to their booth to vote, and only then realised that their names were missing from the rolls.
Is this bang-bang control appropriate in a social system? Should not the ECI and his officers continuously encourage and facilitate citizens to register, correct data, and delete faulty entries from the rolls, as per ECI directives? With some professionalism and care, maintenance of Electoral Roll Management System can be simplified. The current apathy of the officials has made it seem complex.
As per ECI directives, if a part (which corresponds to a booth) finds additions of more than four percent, or deletions of more than two percent, the matter should be investigated. Of the 8,514 parts of Bengaluru, deletions are more than two percent in 2,733 parts, and additions are more than four percent in 2,557 parts. One part has even seen deletions of 61.46 percent voters and another has found additions of 71.26 percent.
Overall, 4,405 parts in the city need investigation – either for excess deletion, excess addition, or both. Such investigations are never done. In the chart below, AT% is total addition percentage and DT% is total deletion percentage; frequency refers to the number of parts.
Note: The histogram’s Y-axis shows the number of parts that have a particular addition/deletion percentage (shown in X-axis). Here the limit for X is set at 15 percent, though a small fraction of booths have higher additions and deletions, such as the following.
Example from Anekal
In part 62 of Anekal assembly constituency, 436 of 711 voters were deleted in Q1-2019. Records in the initial 15 pages are completely wiped out, with the double watermark ‘DELETED’ appearing on those! Reason for deletion? These voters have all shifted residence. An exodus of 436 out of 711 people between this 16th January and 26th March?
For more samples, check these parts with more than 35 percent deletions – AC1520023, AC1500013, AC1550020, AC1520024, AC1740011, AC1550025, AC1760505, AC1750144, and AC1740028 – all at the CEO-KA website.
In 2012, about 13.5 lakh out of about 65 lakh voters of Bengaluru were deleted with reason code ‘S’, for ‘shifted residence’. That was a fake encounter on the innocent voters by CEO-KA. Is it being repeated?