Elections are Coming – Death in the Saddle

A Times Now investigation report has exposed cases of live voters deleted as dead in Mysore. The electoral rolls in Karnataka also seem to be rife with really dead voters. To some, it is difficult to die if enrolled as a voter and for some others, it is difficult to live there. Jeena Bhi Mushkil, Marna Bhi Mushkil.

BBMP officials stated in a press conference (Times of India report on 29 Oct 2017) that a special drive helped them delete the dead voters from the rolls of Bangalore.

Mrs. Rajamma expired on 26 Dec 2012. Her name (with EPIC number XHL0386011) appeared at serial 226, part 219, Basavanagudi constituency in the version of electoral rolls published in Jan 2017. Her name is not deleted from the rolls as per the List of Claims and Objections published by CEO-KA. She lives on in the rolls, aged 99 now. Querying or searching data in CEO-KA website now gives erroneous and misleading data.

The data from CEO-KA website for the period from 01 Jan to 30 Oct 2017 show total 89,697 deletions of which the reasons are 53,046 for shifting of residence, 22,089 for death, 11,662 for being duplicate records and 804 for “other” reasons. “Other” reason is not a reason as per ECI rules as well as by common sense.

The pattern of the death of voters widely varies across the constituencies. This observation can help in checking the activities of EROs.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Deleted as dead as a percentage of total deletions vary by constituencies. Some seem to find the much larger percentage of dead voters while one does not find any.  

 

 

 

 

 

 

Here is a picture of the count of death as a percentage of total voters in the constituencies.

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Posted in Electoral Roll Management, Social Issue | 1 Comment

Elections are Coming – ERMS: Electoral Roll [Mis]management System of Karnataka

Data Delayed

Election Commission of India (ECI) guidelines require all the Chief Electoral Officers (CEOs) of the states and union territories of India to publish new versions of electoral rolls in January and October every year. Most of the CEOs practice this, most of the times. This October, even with the assembly elections expected in May 2018, CEO Karnataka is yet to publish complete electoral rolls as on 12 November. He has published Kannada version the rolls for some constituencies of Bangalore on 03 November 2017. The rolls of 28 constituencies of Bangalore should be published in English as well, as per ECI rules. CEO-KA is expected to publish them by mid-November.

Delay in getting data and delay in justice both hurt.

Data Denied

There are two issues with the few electoral rolls Kannada version published on 03 November:

  1. The voter lists are PDF image files and not text files. We cannot search for data in image files and also cannot extract data from them. This is against ECI rules and is a serious limitation.
  2. To open a file, the user has to enter a CAPTCHA. This increases difficulties in accessing and downloading the files for analysis.

As per ECI, electoral roll PDF documents published on the websites of CEOs should be text PDF files (not images ) and are public documents.  They are so in the websites all other CEOs.

Because the voter lists at CEO-KA website were text PDF files in the past, we could extract the data and analyse since 2009. Feedback based on the observations have helped in improving the quality of the electoral rolls. CEO-KA has orally accepted so in several meetings.

By analysing the data in electoral rolls, we could detect illegal deletion of about 13.5 lakh voters of  Bangalore in 2012 – about 6 months before the last assembly elections. In 2015 we could detect exclusion of about 3 lakh voters prior to BBMP elections.

After the Karnataka High Court judgment of Dec 2012 on a PIL about the mass deletion of 13.5 lakh voters, in Jan 2013 the CEO-KA published the electoral rolls as image files with CAPTCHA protection.  Then I argued with the three Election Commissioners (ECs) at their office in New Delhi on 08 Feb 2013 that the action of CEO-KA was arbitrary, discriminatory, and contradicts ECI rules. I requested the CAPTCHA to be removed and the documents to be published as text PDF files.  Again I pleaded the same with the three ECs during their visit to Bangalore on 02 Mar 2013. CEO-KA was present at both these meetings. After a directive from the CEC, since 02 March 2013 CEO-KA website has been publishing voter lists as text PDF files without CAPTCHA.

When I spoke to the Joint CEO on 03 November, he told me that the rules have now changed and they can publish the rolls as image files. He did not give me references to the rules and was not free to discuss more. I doubt if the rules have changed because other CEOs publish the documents as text PDF files. The English version of the rolls to be published in mid-November would also be CAPTCHA protected image files, I suspect.

New parts are introduced in the current version of the rolls. E.g., Basavanagudi constituency now has 9 more parts. Such changes would be in other constituencies of Bangalore as well. This would result in a change of parts and polling booths for lakhs of voters, causing some confusion. In this context, it is even more important that the voters have easy access to the voter lists to check their data.

Data Lost

In 2012, CEO-KA had wantonly deleted about 13.5 lakh voters illegally. This was corrected by High Court order. A couple of months prior to the BBMP elections in 2015, about 3 lakh voters were excluded from the rolls. After complaining to various authorities and publicising the story, these voters were included in the rolls just a week prior to the elections.

Subsequently too, there have been illegal deletions of voters in small numbers.

I suspect such exclusions in the current version of the rolls. In the past lakhs of voter records were lost when new parts were formed in Delhi as well as in AP. This is due to poor process and low-quality software. Without getting the English version of the rolls in a format that will allow text extraction, thorough analysis about missing voters is not possible. We can only find a few sample cases.

However, I have a reason to suspect such deletion of voters. In the latest rolls, I do not find my entire section with 202 voters in the rolls. There could be several other such cases.

Wrong Data

Search for documents and voter records at CEO-KA site, Election Commission of India (ECI) and National Voters  (NVSP – from ECI) give us wrong data in some cases.

Some Examples:

  1. ECI website has links to PDF rolls of states and union territories. When we choose Karnataka on the search page, we get the electoral rolls published on 30 Jan 2014.
  2. At NVSP, procedures to access various data and to submit several application forms differ from those at CEO-KA website, which is often more restrictive. The results we get on queries also often differ, with the NVSP site giving stale data.
  3. When I search with EPIC for my data in electoral rolls, the record is found in part 219, polling station Shanthinikethana English School.
    1. This booth is not even listed in the version of rolls published on 03 November.
    2. My name does not appear in Part 219 or in any other part.

Such results from searches from the above three sites will mislead and confuse the users.

Messed Up Website

  1. If we try to enter CEO-KA website with his URL, the home page of Karnataka Public Services Commission flashes for a moment and then we get ‘page not found’ error. On entering <ceokarnataka.kar.nic.in/hm_ec.aspx> we get the home page of CEO-KA. This is not intuitive. Most of the users won’t know this.
  2. Search for electoral rolls of some constituencies (e.g., Mahadevapura) gives a message “Data will be uploaded shortly….!” Top of this page gives a link to the homepage, which again flashes Karnataka Public Services Commission home page and then gives “page not found” message. Even the links within the CEO-KA website lead to wrong pages.

These issues were reported to CEO-KA and ECI in early October.

Blocked Entry, Blocked Exit

CEO-KA website home page has a link to “List of Claims and Objections”   which gives the status of various applications:

  • Form-6 to register as a voter in the constituency. This could be a new voter or for a voter who has shifted residence from a different constituency anywhere in the country.
  • Form-7 to delete an entry in the voter list, either for shifting residence or death.
  • Form-8 to correct data in the voter record.
  • Form-8A to change address resulting in a change of part within the same constituency.

The status of an application could be one of

  • approved
  • rejected
  • being verified

When an application is rejected, the list gives reasons for rejection. Thousands of these reasons are illogical and confusing. Following is a summary of reasons for rejection of applications in the 28 constituencies of Bangalore.

  1. 11,073 Form-6 are rejected with a comment “Eligible for inclusion.” Applications for registration are rejected though eligible for inclusion!
  2. 6,060 Form-6 are rejected with a comment ” Not eligible – otherwise disqualified.” Based on Representation of People Act, ECI defines a disqualified voter as a person who is certified by a medical authority to be of unsound mind or a person who is convicted of certain classes of crimes. Do these applicants belong to these categories? I doubt.
  3. 12,982 Form-7 are rejected with the comment that the voter records may be deleted for 7 different reasons. If they may be deleted, why reject the requests to delete?
  4. 177 Form 8A are rejected, 175 with reason that the records may be deleted. It is not clear if they are deleted. Also, 2 rejections are with a comment that they may be included. The logic for all the rejections is not clear.

Active and Inactive EROs

On the paper, various initiatives were taken by the CEO’s organisation to increase voter registration. The ‘List of Claims and Objections’ indicate that only a handful of EROs have been active in registering new voters and deleting the shifted and dead ones during 01 January to 30 October 2017.

A few constituencies have received a large number of applications while others have received very few. E.g., max applications for enrolment in a constituency was 23,636 and minimum was 2,929. The table below shows some statistics. This could indicate a poor involvement of some of the EROs in registration drive and cleaning up the rolls.

171112-1

KR Pura has rejected a large number of requests for deletion. Mahadevapura and Bommanahalli have rejected a large number of requests for registration.

The following bar graph visualises the above.Total_Applications

Some EROs were more aggressive in rejecting applications for illogical reasons.Rejected_Claims__Obj

Some EROs have a large number of applications pending to process.Pending_Claims__Obj

More applications in a constituency would be a result of active EROs cooperative and encouraging citizens to register as voters and active voluntary organisations.

Mismatch in Voter Counts

During 01 January to 30 October 2017, the 28 constituencies of Bangalore received 6,38,801 applications in forms 6, 7, 8, and 8A. Their status is given in the table below.

171112-2

The above numbers would mean that the electoral rolls of October 2017 would have  89,697  more voters than in the rolls published in January 2017.

Voters in Jan 2017:          84,91,017

Expected increase:              89,697  (Added 1,86,492 – Deleted  87,697)

Expected total voters:   85,80,714

On 29 October 2017, a report published in Times of India stated that Bangalore has 84,97,192 voters. This count is 83,522 less than what is calculated as per the data published at CEO-KA website. The TOI report, based on the numbers they got from CEO-KA offices is accurate to the last digit, it may not be correct. The numbers don’t match with what is published in CEO-KA website. If the count of total voters reported by TOI is correct, then, 83,522 approved applications are not registered as voters. Another loss of trust in the system.

 

Posted in eGovernance, Electoral Roll Management, Social Issue | 3 Comments

A Healthy Birthday

Many people wished me today on my 68th birthday, by calling, mailing and posting on Facebook and Linkedin. Thank you for caring and for the kind thoughts, friends.

The year that has gone by has been wonderful in many ways.

My grandson Dhruv, who will be three in three months, keeps me entertained.  Watching him grow has been wonderful and emotionally the most rewarding experience of life. Today when he wished “Happy Birthday,” I was choked with joy.

Teaching two subjects at National College – Software Testing and Data Analytics – has been an excellent learning experience. In the class I discuss the technology I apply and my applications improve because of what I teach.

I have read more books during the last year than earlier, averaging 3 per month. Today my daughter gifted me two books by Michael Pollan – The Botany of Desire and The Omnivore’s Dilemma. She chose these books for a reason; they talk about food.

I had no dilemma being an herbivore, vegetarian. I never craved for any kind of food. Dieting to reduce weight was not my need any time as I have mostly been underweight or just the right weight. I ate without restriction or guilt, but I have been a poor eater.  But, the restrictions on sweets, fruits, and carbohydrates came from my doctor eleven years ago when I was found to be diabetic.

After discovering that I was diabetic, scores of papers and books I read indicated that it would be a condition for the lifetime. Doctors told me, “Once you are diabetic, you are so for life.”  So be it. Many of my aunts,  uncles, and cousins, paternal and maternal, were diabetic and it is in my genes. My echo chamber confirmed this for years. With minimal medicines, I maintained the blood glucose levels within limits. My life and work were not affected.

Then, Sumir gifted me a ticket to a daylong workshop by Dr. Nandita Shah of SHARAN, held on 6th Feb 2017. Dr. Shah, President’s Nari Shakti  Awardee this year, explained how we can reverse diabetes and heart diseases by eating what we should and by avoiding what we should not eat. That changed my idea about the irreversibility of diabetes. My previous thoughts about, and practice of, a healthy diet was not healthy enough. I turned into a vegan, adopted oil-free cooking, ate more vegetables and much more fruits of all varieties.

I read dozens of books on the subject and visited scores of websites talking about food for health. Again, they echoed my new found guidelines for Low-Fat Plant-Based Whole Food (LFPBWF). Carbohydrates and fruits, considered bad for diabetes, came back to my meals. Fat and milk (and all the milk products) went out.

After taking medicine for diabetes for ten years, I stopped them 7 months ago. My sugar level now is below what it was with medicine. The cholesterol counts are better too, well within limits.

More than anything, it is a wonderful feeling to be free of all medicines. I feel more energetic and cheerful.

Dr. Nandita Shah will conduct her next workshop in Bangalore on 28 Jan 2018. See the details at <https://sharan-india.org/events/reversing-diabetes-and-hypertension-29/&gt;. I have benefited from her workshop and recommend it.

Below are some references you can explore:

I also recommend the following books from which I have benefited, in the order of my preference:

  1. Program for Reversing Diabetes by Dr. Neal Bernard
  2. How Not to Die by Dr. Michael Greger
  3. Power Food for Brain by Dr. Neal Bernard
  4. Eat to Live by Dr. Joel Fuhrman
  5. The China Study by Dr. Colin Campbell
  6. The Food Revolution by John Robbins (son of Robin of Baskin&Robins )
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A Talk on Jupyter Notebook

Home Page of jupyter.org states, “The Jupyter Notebook is an open-source web application that allows you to create and share documents that contain live code, equations, visualizations and explanatory text. Uses include: data cleaning and transformation, numerical simulation, statistical modeling, machine learning and much more.” It really is much more!

Whereas the name stands for  Julia, Python and R languages, it supports over 40 programming languages.

UC Berkeley states that within 3 years of its release, Jupyter Notebook is being used by more than 1 million academics and professionals in fields ranging from finance to astrophysics. Jupyter has won significant praise and support and emerged as the gold standard application for data science. The software is considered a game-changer for research.

We can use it for exploratory software development, writing technical reports, blog posts,  presentations, and even to write full length books. Some publishers accept manuscripts of books in notebooks.

I have been using Jupyter Notebook while teaching various subjects and am hooked on to it now.

On 9th August at 6:00 p.m., I’ll be talking at Bangalore Science Forum on “Jupyter Notebook for Learning, Teaching, and Authoring.” The venue is H Narasimhaiah Memorial Hall, National College, Basavanagudi. The talk may be streamed live on this facebook page.

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Facts & (dis)Figures in Times of India Story on Electoral Rolls

On 16 July 2017, Time of India(TOI) allocated 120 centimeter-columns to stories about the status of electoral rolls of Bangalore Districts. They miss some important facts and references and could give a wrong impression to the readers.

TOI: “In the process of cleaning the voters’ list, the Palike [BBMP] has noticed a remarkable tilt in gender ratio in the constituencies. It only goes to show that not all women have registered as voters.”

Neither all the women nor all the men have registered as voters. This is not a news. The “remarkable tilt” in gender ratio noticed by BBMP is not supported by facts. However, the statement gives a feeling that women are grossly under-represented.

Let us look at the facts.

Page 45 of Census of India 2011, KARNATAKA, SERIES-30 PART XII-A, DISTRICT CENSUS HANDBOOK, BANGALORE states, “The sex ratio is defined as number of females to 1000 males. According to 2011 Census, the sex ratio of the district is 916.”

Therefore, if a constituency has a sex ratio lower than 916, then, females have a lower representation. Also, if the ratio is higher than 916, then, males have a lower representation.

Assuming the census report to be valid,  15 out of the 28 constituencies of Bangalore have sex ratios higher than 916 and one has 916. When only 12 out of 28 (43%) constituencies have a higher representation of males, it is strange that BBMP finds a “remarkable tilt” favouring male voters.  We can argue that there is remarkable tilt against male voters.

Based on the electoral rolls published by the Chief Electoral Officer, Karnataka, (CEO) on 10 Jan 2017, the following chart shows the sex ratios of Bangalore constituencies KA150 to KA177.

voterSexRatio

The aggregate sex ratio of voters in Bangalore constituencies is 911, which, ideally, should have been 916. As seen the chart above, 5 or 6 constituencies have a much lower representation of females.


As per the TOI report, the Election Commission expects 70% of the population to be registered as voters whereas as per census report, 68.22% of the population of Karnataka is equal or above 18 years of age. Despite that, 119 of 198 wards of BBMP have more than 68% of the population registered as voters. Though I have reported this bloat in the voter list with illegal entries, there is no response from the CEO or the Commissioner, BBMP.

The following issues continue to erode the quality of electoral rolls:

  • Lakhs of duplicated records and fake entries.
  • Virtual deletion of voters due to software and process errors.
  • Larger than permissible booth sizes, causing poorer voter turnout%.
  • Non-inclusion of approved claims and objections (additions, corrections, and deletions).
  • Scant data on section address.
  • Errors in name, age, sex, relationship, and house
  • Unreadable records in PDF documents published at CEO’s website.

With the Assembly Election due in less than a year, we citizens have a duty to demand a better quality electoral rolls and their management.

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Mind Your Numbers, Mr CEO

Times of India reported on 26 Jan 2017:  “Around 72% of the state’s population will vote next year,” said Chief Electoral Officer, Anil Kumar Jha, “We have added 7.35 lakh new voters to the list and have decided to delete nearly 3.5 lakh. The gender ratio is 968 females per 1000 males.”

The population of Karnataka is reported as 6.5 crores. Electoral rolls of the state have 4,88,78,784 voters – 75.2% of the population. The news report also states, ” … nearly five crore people are eligible to vote in the 2018 assembly elections, ” predicting that 77% of the population could be in the electoral rolls.

As per the census of India, 41.1% of our population is under 18 years of age, making 59.9% of them eligible to register as voters. We know that many eligible citizens are not registered as voters. Even if every eligible person is registered as a voter, of the 6.5 crore population of Karnataka, only 3.89 crore people could be of voting age. Karnataka already has more than 1 crore illegal entries in the rolls.

The estimated population of Bangalore is 1.01 crore. This would make about 60 lakh above 18 years of age. But, Bangalore has 84,91,017 voters in the rolls.

Rampant duplicate entries and the dead living in the lists are the main causes of bloated electoral rolls. Or, is the population of Karnataka 8.16 crores? Or is the census report wrong on population and about age demography?

Electoral rolls of Karnataka as a whole have about 26% bloat and those of Bangalore have about 42% bloat. No wonder the voter turnout% is low in the state. The basis of calculation is faulty. Politicians and election commission authorities have been barking under a wrong tree, complaining of voter apathy. Don’t we know the source of real apathy? Apart from giving demoralising impressions, triggering wrong actions, poor quality of electoral rolls would also increase malpractices in the booths.

Of the 13 states/UTs I have been analysing, Karnataka has the worst Electoral Roll Management practice. I have repeatedly offered my help to improve its quality, to which there has been no response.


Movement of population in cities is much higher than in rural areas. Bangalore is the second fastest growing city in India. The churn should have resulted in much higher registration and deletion of voters due to the movement of population. However, in the period between the recent two versions of electoral rolls, when voter counts in the state as a whole increased by 1.69%, Bangalore has seen only 0.72% increase. When the state has deleted 0.68% of voters (duplicated records and shifted voters), Bangalore has deleted only 0.50%. This also proves the apathy of Electoral Registration Officers in Bangalore.

 

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Opposition ‘Parties’:  Oppose Sans Grace

All the political parties – ruling and opposition – unite on the matter of Jallikattu. A few lives are lost in the game in a couple of days. Opposition parties unite against demonetisation and stall the process in parliament. “For God’s sake, do your job. You are meant to transact business in Parliament. Disruption of Parliament is not acceptable at all,”  laments the President of India. Opposition MPs are not in a mood to listen to the old man as they are having a great party within the Parliament.

As the case for Kambala in Karnataka gathers storm, former external affairs minister SM Krishna, like a seasoned bull,  charges his party leadership that the party did not want time-tested leaders but only managers. He is unhappy about not being invited any more to the small parties in the party.

“Nandan Nilekani, a high-profile member of the opposition Indian National Congress party, has joined a committee to map a path to digital payments. ”  I admire that a visionary like Nandan Nilekani is not sucked by the petty politics and works with grace for a greater cause. I also admire the central government for choosing a member of an opposition party as an advisor for its ambitious project.


The Annual Budget attracts bitter comments from the opposition parties and admiration from thought leaders, economists, industrialists and common men.

Rahul Gandhi states, “the budget lacked vision. This government talks so much of being pro-farmer, but did nothing for them.”

Industry leader Mohandas Pai states: ‘…  it’s a budget with a focus on farmers, rural area, on the poor, on women, on infrastructure, on digital economy and bringing in good governance… Overall, one would say that it is a good budget.”

While Sitaram Yechuri of CPM calls the budget a complete gimmick, Shashi Taroor of INC makes tongue-in-cheek shy comments, “Some borrowed ideas that are good, some new ideas that may be good but are yet to be tested … ”

Kiran Majumdar summarises her comments, “Overall, with this budget, Arun Jaitley has tried to make an attempt at cleansing the nation of black money by bringing in more transparency and accountability with a view to make India an inclusive and equitable society. ”

Economic Times prints the views of ” Some of the top economists, tax consultants and market analysts”

  • “could not have been a better budget in the given circumstances”
  • It is indeed a pro-growth budget
  • It is a step forward to transform the economy into meritocracy
  • The budget seems to be well-balanced
  • a fiscally prudent reformist budget
  • The reaffirmation of the Governments focus on GST was very reassuring
  • workable and realistic budget
  • healthy allocation for housing, agriculture & rural sector and infrastructure development.
  • The reduction in corporate tax rates for small companies will give a boost to the startup ecosystem
  • efficient and sensible budget

 

 

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