BENGALURU:With elections for the state assembly around the corner, the State Election Commission is not leaving any stoned unturned to ensure maximum citizens get enrolled and participate in the electoral process. However, many in the city have found one hurdle or another, from finding it very tough to register to vote to not finding their names on the voting list at all.
Two months to process online application?
Santosh Birader, a resident of Vijayanagara, who has been trying for the past few months to get his wife enrolled to vote for the first time, but in vain."First, we tried to register online. They took two months just to process the application, and at the end of it, we found out that it had gotten rejected. No specific reason was mentioned. After this, we went to the local BBMP office to physically submit our form. Again, they gave no reason to reject the form. We had enclosed all the required documents, and there should ideally have been few chances of a rejection," says Santosh. Him and his wife were made to go to the BBMP office at least four times. "One time, they said that we would have to get a letter from the electoral registration officer (ERO) or the Panchayat or the Tahasildar office of an area where we previously stayed. Another time, they wanted an affidavit from a notary," he adds.
During a voters enrollment drive organised recently, Santosh once again went to see if it was possible to finally get things done."We went to the designated booth. It was, however, not even open. We phoned the officers in charge, but she was not even aware that the drive was going on. We finally went to the BBMP office again, where they registered our application but denied to give an acknowledgment slip," says Santosh.
Names on the voters list not updated on time
Although B S Manohar, a resident of Basavangudi and its RWA's president, has voted in a number of elections, he was finding it particularly difficult to see his name in the voting list this time. "Before every election, it's my routine to check my name and my family members' names in the electoral list. This time too, I went to the prescribed website to check many times. However, the website kept on saying that the names are yet to be updated," says Manohar. This went on for many days, during which time he continuously checked for his name. He even went to physically check his name at a designated booth during an enrollment drive, but returned disappointed. "The person at the booth had no list of names. I was shocked," he adds. A few days after, he was finally able to see his name online, but it would have been better without the initial scare. He says the much-publicized drives for voters' enrollment are all "hogwash." "Every election we hear names being deleted from the voters list enmasse," he adds.
Bheema Raju B G, a resident of Mahalakshmipuram, recently conducted an outreach programme for voters as a BPAC member, in his locality. During the outreach, he helped submit forms for around 25 local residents. "There were many others, besides the 25, who came for this programme, however, they had some issues with their documents. The 25 I ultimately submitted had all things in order. Of these, only a few got an SMS of acknowledgment. With the others, we are not sure what happened. Registering to vote is a very difficult process that can be made much easier," adds Bheema.
Numbers and website not working
On Twitter, citizens have posted numerous complaints tagging the chief election commissioner of Karnataka. On April 9 one nishamohan310 posted, "I applied online for a voter id 3 years ago - it is still processing....which is because the Govt. office won’t accept it because there these was no election around the corner."
Another post, by Shreyanka Ranade, on April 6, says, "None of the numbers mentioned on the website for contacting #CEOKarnataka r working. Toll Free Num 1950 is invalid. 0802222300/0271/0272 are out of order or unreachable. What is the reason for such pathetic condition. Then how can public contact CEO for any queries"
THEY MAKE NUMBER OF MISTAKES: OFFICIALS
Additional district election officer (DEO), BBMP North, Vasanthi Amar, says, "Many times, citizens make one mistake or another while uploading or submitting forms. Sometimes, they do not scan the documents or sign properly. Despite a number of awareness drives, many people still have doubts. This year, the registrations are far better than previous elections. We got 26,000 applications on one single day." DEOs of other Bengaluru divisions remained unavailable for comment.