Wednesday, 4 December 2013

The voters who couldn't vote

I wanted to vote today. I started out at 9:30 am, found my election booth and stood in line. For the next hour I was shunted from one person to the other who told me my name is not on the list. I'd gotten a new card made last year at my new residential address. Yet my name was not on the list. I was asked if I had gone online and checked if my name was on the list. I hadn't, and that I admit was my mistake. I had voted several times before and didn't think my name could have gone off the list. But it had.

"Jahan pehle rehte the wahan ke booth par naam hoga aapka, transfer nahin hua hoga". So off I went to the booth I had always voted at. Found my mum, dad and sister. But my name was nowhere to be found. I had filled up my form, submitted it, picked up my election card. My name had been removed from the previous address but not been put on the list for my current address. I was not on the voters list.

I came back to my current poll booth and asked what can be done. How can we address this issue so that I may be allowed to vote? It had been 3.5 hours of running around and I was really frustrated. I really wanted to vote. I was given numbers of the SDM, sector officer and a bunch of other people. I called them. None of them could help me. No one had the discretionary powers to issue a letter allowing me to vote. One person asked me to come to him after 15th December.

By now I was at my wits end. In the last few hours I had seen innumerable cases of peoples names not being on the voter's list. Someone people had valid election cards and were standing there but their records had mysteriously been deleted, without any intimation or action undertaken by them. One old man had been voting for the last 40 years but was told his name was not on the list this time. He had stayed in the same house and voted in the same place. There was no reason his name wasn't on the list.

The only explanation repeatedly given to me was that someone must have come to your house to confirm you address. I said they hadn't. I was told I must have been out of the house. Is that valid reason to strike my name off a voters list? Even Flipkart and courier delivery guys call and come or come back again. Shouldn't I have been given a call, or had someone return or even leave a note telling me how to take it forward? I should have gone online and checked, but what about the scores of people in our country who don't have access to the internet? Don't they deserve to be on a voters list?

I saw so many people being turned away today, rich, poor, old, young, all out to exercise their right to vote. All people with valid election cards in their hands. Shouldn't there be some authority that can consider these cases and allow them to vote?

How do names mysteriously go off the list or get deleted? I got my card a year ago, why doesn't that ensure my place on the list? There were reporters from a prominent daily newspaper at the polling station who came to ask me what happened. Apparently it's happening across the city they said. They'd seen the same situation at all the booths they had visited. If I saw over a hundred such cases happen in front of me over a few hours at two polling stations I can't imagine the total number across the city.

There are so many campaigns urging us to vote. Yet here were hundreds of voters being turned away due to errors in the functioning of the electoral offices. Is that then a fair election? Is it not possible to make this system easier?

I spent a total of 5 hours doing this. Not everyone would. I really wanted to vote.

1 comment:

  1. This is really weird shit. No media coverage?