Rolls - Election Commission considers Post Office as Nodal
SATTA conducted detailed field studies of voter registration
defects in AP. Voter registration process, though impeccable
on paper is inaccessible to the citizen and ineffective
in correcting flaws. Our massive sample survey proved this.
The survey covering 56 rural and urban polling station areas
covering a sample of over 40,000 voters proved the problem
to be bigger than we had expected. The survey revealed 15%
errors in rural areas and 44.8% in urban areas. The magnitude
of the problem can better be comprehended when we realize
that the 500 votes in Florida that decided the US Presidency
are only 1 out of 200,000 votes cast (.0005%).
voter registration flaws can be corrected to a large extent
by making the process open, verifiable and accessible to
citizens. Keeping in mind especially the rural populace,
LOK SATTA suggested that the citizen friendly neighborhood
post office be made nodal agency in voter registration for
(1) display and sale of voters' lists for a nominal price
(2) the availability of statutory application forms for
adding or deleting names (3) receiving of applications and
forwarding to the registration authorities. (4) making the
results known to citizens. All this would reduce a lot of
hassle and simplify the voter registration and correction
of electoral rolls.
SATTA approached the Election Commission with the survey
findings. The Election Commission accepted our findings
and responded positively to our suggestions. They agreed
in principle to use post offices as nodal agencies for citizen
access to registration process. In the first phase, voter
lists and forms for addition and deletion of names will
be made available at the post offices. As a result of our
exercise, the Election Commission had begun intensive verification
of electoral rolls all over India in Nov 2001.
survey and the Election Commission's decision to make post
offices nodal agency in voter registration are important
landmarks in the evolution of Indian democracy. It will
be some years before the full impact of this will be felt.
And it requires enormous publicity and mobilization of civil
society all over the country to use the opportunity to cleanse
the electoral rolls. With over 600 million registered voters
and 15 languages, it is no small task. But this is a vital
first step in the mammoth task of reforming our large democracy
and making our electoral process genuinely fair and vibrant.