While there is lot of visible drive to encourage people to vote, minimal effort has been put in to equip people to be at least eligible to vote. Many Indians do believe that mere possession of a Electors Photo Identity Card (EPIC) or simply a Voter ID, he/she can vote, but a mere possession of a Voter ID card issued to you does not guarantee you your vote because it is mandatory that your name should appear in the electoral list/roll. To get a Voter photo identity card, form 001A can be filled, but for inclusion of his/her name in the electoral list Form 6 has to be submitted. Most of the states through e-governance initiatives have made the process of Form-6 submissions online; more information is available on websites of Chief Electoral Officer (CEO) of respective states. The URL of CEOs are quite simple; example for the state of Karnataka it is ceokarnataka.kar.nic.in, for UP it is ceouttarpradesh.nic.in, rest of the states follow almost similar nomenclature.
The government has done a great job by making the voters registration process online, but is it really working? Let’s take an example of one of the most so called technologically advanced state Karnataka. The general election polling date of Karnataka is scheduled on May 5, 2013 and the deadline for citizens to enrol as voters (Form 6 submission) is April 7, 2013. With few days left for enrolling citizens as voters problems have started emerging up in the offline and online Form 6 process submission. The offline process is as simple as collecting the forms from local BBMP(Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike) offices and submitting it back to them, the real problem is theses office have ran out of forms, most of the offices including the BBMP head office don’t have any copies of Form 6 left with them. The offline situation is so bad that the officials are asking citizens to make copy of forms and return the original for further distribution. The rule of not accepting more than 10 Form 6 from a single person was created to prevent vested interest, but has created a road block for volunteers who are working day and night for signing citizens to vote. The temporary staff responsible for collecting Form 6, who are working with a mind-set of social service rather than their duty are behaving rudely and for small discrepancies are turning down people. The smart online community of Bangalore is also finding it hard to get themselves enrolled as voters, the time taking sign up process and glitches in online registration system is quite discouraging for citizens. The worst part is, even after submitting forms and supporting documents online, applicant has to send the form and copy of supporting documents to ERO/ARO.
The best unofficial way to stay away from the headache of Form-6 submission is by contacting a local MLA or minister of a political party and asking him to take up the complete process of issuing voter’s id and Form-6 submissions. This old traditional way still works much faster and is bound to be more error free, our Indian IT systems and election officials have still not matured to a level they can provide high quality services to citizens of India. Even the nature of errors in the electoral list such as single names appearing multiple times and horribly wrong data listed against several names raises serious question mark on our electoral system and capabilities of people working for the system. If this is the case of India’s most IT educated state of Karnataka, God only knows what’s happening in rest of the country.
Here are some important internet links for Indian elections: