Saturday, May 2, 2009

After The Elections - Omissions in Electoral Rolls

First two phases of elections are over and some other states are still to vote. 

As these elections were happening after the Mumbai attacks, there was a lot of awareness and people were in the mood to vote. But it seems Mumbai registered below 50% voting. While people lament the absent voter syndrome, people like Rajesh who worked hard to increase the awareness of the political process, couldnt vote because of his name not being there in the electoral rolls. Questions were asked if it is because his open support to BJP. I am not sure but I am far from satisfied in the preparations of electoral rolls.

The problems start with registering your name in electoral rolls. 
The process is so cumbersome. I had applied thrice to get my name enrolled in the rolls. Though some initiatives like Jaago Re have helped in making the process easy, there is a lot to be changed. 
I had to go to the registration office to give my application. I have applied twice online but there was no way to know the status of that.. The application was thoroughly unusable. They ask for username and password to search electoral rolls. Why? 

One of my friends, though unwell, but interested in voting had to scour three polling booths near her home only to find that she was unable to vote. But she has voted in the previous elections, even Rajesh Jain says that he has voted in all the past elections. How come their names were removed this time? Do we need to register again every election season? What a waste of time and resources. These things will frustrate us no end and make us loose interest in the whole process. 

Agreed they could have checked their name in the electoral rolls prior to the election day but what could they probably do if they found that their name was missing- they have to apply again and anyway they couldnt vote this time. 

How to solve this? I think it is high time the single national ID is introduced. It will make the multiple IDS redundant and making of the electoral rolls very easy. 

Loksatta advocates the use of Post Offices as the nodal agencies for preparation of electoral rolls. As post offices cover very small areas and the post man knows his area very well they can just verify if all the people belonging there are available for voting and update accordingly. Rather than people having to apply and being clueless about the whole process, this would ease the process very very much. As soon the address of a person changes, he should place a request for change in address, which the post man verifies and all the required records are updated, his name should be removed from the electoral rolls of the old constituency and updated in the new constituency. 

Before the election, once all the voters are allowed to inform about the ommissions and additions that need to be made and then after verification from the post office, these can be made. They can send mails to existing people to confirm their prescence in the constituency and if they dont confirm it their names are to be removed. This way everyone will know that their name exists in the list or not and they are not surprised on the election day. 

I think this change is not far considering the experience in this elections. If BJP comes to power in this elections, they have implementing national ID in their manifesto, hope they implement it and we have hassle free voting the next time.