Evening at Zambezi River, Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe, May 2015
and so does everything around... the situation, the people, the perspective, the needs.... and we too change.... the wise and courageous seek change.. because only change is constant!

Sunday, March 9, 2014

207.General Elections 2014: Part 1: Registration

Conducting elections in India is one of the most challenging tasks. I appreciate efforts of Election Commission and those who are involved into the functions related to parliamentary elections. It is a massive exercise and it generates a series of learning for people like us.

Long back, when I became eligible for voting, I was excited with the idea of fulfilling National Duty by voting. However for many years, I could not register myself as a voter. Initially I did not have the necessary papers (like residential proof). When I had one, it so happened that during every election year, I shifted from the city from where I registered myself as voter. At last, in 2004, I was able to vote and did vote in subsequent elections – Loksabha, Assembly, Municipal Corporation.

As I had voted in 2009 Loksabha elections, I was sure that my name would be there in the voters’ list – as my residential address remains the same over the years. However, to check, I visited this page:

Chief Electoral Officer, Maharashtra
Electoral Roll Search (मतदार यादीत नाव शोधणे)
 Prepared By : Chief Electoral Officer, Maharashtra

  Search In English     मराठीत शोधा
                       Id Wise        Name Wise        

                                 YOU ARE VISITER NUMBER :

I searched and could not find my name.

So, Plan B. Go to Online registration. 

Chief Electoral Officer, Maharashtra
Greater Participation for a Stronger Democracy
Online Voter Registration
Inclusion of names for residents electors
Inclusion of names for overseas electors
Any objection on inclusion of names)
Correction of entries in the Electoral Rolls
Transposition within Assembly

I opened Form 6, registered myself, received password and then filled form by logging in.  We need a photograph, residential proof and birth date proof. I had photograph and the scanned copies (in PDF) of the two required documents. When I moved to the second page, I realized that the two documents are needed in jpeg format and not PDF. I logged out, without completing the form.

Next day, I had the two documents photographed, saved jpeg to laptop and filled the form.
After few days, I checked my name in the voters’ list, it still did not appear.

Today, I read in the newspaper about the drive – voters can check their names by using toll free number 1950. Well, the number was not working.

The other option was to visit the polling booth and check the name in the lists.  If the name is without photograph, we can submit photograph. If the name is not in the list, submit form 6.

I went to the school – polling booth. Behind the desk 3 -4 people were sitting and many people around were frantically searching lists in their hands. 

There were number of lists; each list had a specific number – something like Ward number.

For getting correct list, you needed to know Ward number. I did not know that. So, I told the name of the residential complex and asked for the list. The person behind the desk also did not know. She said, “Tell me the number and I will give you the list.”

I thought it was better to fill up a new form. So, I went to another queue and asked for the form. The lady said, “No forms.” She complained that they were provided only 10 forms.  She also complained that on Sunday they were made to work.

Someone in the next queue asked me to go to the office of Corporater (elected representative to Municipal Corporation) and get the form. I did not know the office. With little efforts, I was able to search the office and get a blank 6A Form. I returned to the school. In the mean time there were more people; more lists more questions, more desperation, more criticism, but no system. It was all confusion.

Then I was told that the photocopies of the document need to be attested. Now, where on earth do I get that?

Poor staff. They had hardly anything under control. Poor people, they would have to spend so much time for simple things like registering themselves – which is their right.

 It only shows the kind of challenge Election Commission is handling.

One more aspect I realized that political parties are working only through social and mainstream media. There is a lot of hype in the media. But where are the political parties who are helping voters to register, to ensure that their name is in the voting list? The political activists are completely missing on the ground – especially when the leader is not around.