Yet he had a herculian task of finding out whether he was
enrolled as a voter, and where he should vote! And he too
had the voter identity card. We can then imagine the plight
of an ordinary villager!
Ramayya, a farm worker wants to know whether his name is
enrolled, and if not, he wishes to register as a voter,
he has to go through the following steps: go to Tehsil /
Mandal office 25 km away from home; seek information about
the part number (of his polling station), fee to be paid,
and the head of account to which it should be remitted;
go to the nearest sub treasury (old taluk town) and pay
the amount by challan; go back to his Mandal office and
ask for voters list; verify the name; if it is not included,
ask for two copies of form 6; apply in duplicate; wait for
the electoral registration officer (ERO) to publish it in
the notice board calling for objections; ERO will then hear
objections if any and include the name if all is in order.
Even a cursory glance at these procedures makes one breathless!
And Ramayya cannot apply for inclusion of others' names.
They all must individually submit applications! No wonder,
voter registration is in a mess. If fact, it is a miracle
that so many of us are able to vote!
is the answer? No matter how hard the election bureaucracy
works, there is no way they can make voter registration
free from appalling errors. We need to involve citizens
on a permanent basis. Make voter registration accessible,
simple, transparent, citizen-friendly, and fair. Make the
neighborhood post office the nodal agency for voter registration.
have about 250,000 post offices all over India, which function
efficiently and are easily accessible. Moreover Post Office
is the only public institution which is approached by ordinary
citizens without fear or anxiety! If voter rolls are available
locally for perusal or purchase, and the post office is
made the nodal agency for voter registration and correction
of defects, there will be a dramatic improvement.
post offices for voter registration is not something that
is radically new. It is a time-tested model. For example,
in the US, Australia, New Zealand, Fiji and Hongkong, the
post office is effectively used for voter registration.
Even in Kerala the postal network was used for verification
of electoral rolls and it met with great success.
the answer is simple, why can't we change things? For five
years Lok Satta has been urging the Election Commission
(EC) and postal authorities to act. After mountains of paper
work, the EC and postal officials were convinced. But the
matter was stalled for long because they were both deciding
who should write to whom first! Finally, Mr Arun Shourie,
the minister incharge of posts intervened, and both met.
They decided in principle to make post office the nodal
agency for voter registration. But this is yet to be implemented.
Meanwhile, all this pressure led to some improvements. The
EC directed that voter lists should be read out in gram
sabhas and ward sabhas, and applications collected locally.
In AP, nearly 6.4 million names were deleted from the rolls,
and 3.4 new applications were rejected as the voter percentage
was higher than eligible population. But such mass deletion
is bound to lead to gross errors.
latest voting fiasco is an opportunity for all of us to
understand what is wrong and how to set it right. We need
to assert collectively. The EC and postal authorities must
be made to act, and swiftly.