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Article in The Times of India
Authored by Dr.Jayaprakash Narayan


National Coordinator of
VOTEINDIA movement

The World's largest error prone democracy

The first phase of polling has come to an end. Times of India and other newspapers carried stories of voters being turned away from the polling booths though they had genuine photo identity cards. The people who could not vote are neither hard-core criminals in prison nor are they aliens from Mars. They are ordinary citizens of this country and yet they were denied their inalienable right to vote. The reason - their name did not figure in the voters list!

Unfortunately, nothing can be done at this late stage. The electoral rolls cannot be revised, nor can entries corrected or names included or deleted after the last day of nominations. In reality even before nominations, corrections in voter registers is a centralized, tortuous and inaccessible process.

This is not the first time that the irregularities have surfaced in the voters lists. For instance, a large sample survey (over 40,000 voters) by Lok Satta in Andhra Pradesh in 2000 showed an error margin of over 15 percent in voter registration in rural areas. Over 10 percent of the names have been wrongfully included (dead or fictitious persons, and those who no longer reside in the locality), and about 5 percent of the eligible persons have been excluded from the electoral rolls (persons attaining 18 years of age by January 1, or moved into the area). In urban areas, the picture is even more appalling; with 26 percent of the names wrongfully included, and 19 percent of the voters' names excluded.

Clearly, a system which allows such gross errors is less than adequate, and electoral verdicts are bound to be distorted. Especially when we consider that the average polling is about 60 percent, and the victory margins are usually around 5-10 percent, we can imagine the impact of irregularities in voter registration on the electoral verdicts.

Isn't it a paradox that India, with our large pool of technical manpower and undoubted competence in IT enabled services finds it difficult to properly enumerate the voters?




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