Voter List – An Augean Stable?

When I respond to the courtesy question “what is your name?” people write my name with diverse spellings – Butt/But, Bat/Batt, Bhut, etc.  I am a little scared of the last version as it could soon become Bhoot or Bhooth, unlinking my identity from my name. Name is a noun – a proper noun – and there is no restriction about its spelling. But, when it is my name, I would like to spell it in one specific way and none else. There may be thousand names of Vishnu – I am content with one.

We are proud of Nandan Nilekani, who lives in Koramangala 3rd Block. Let us see how our dear Adhaar leader and his family members are enrolled by the election commission. Following information is from the pdf files at CEO Karnataka website for BBMP Elections:

Corrections at the end (no idea what has been corrected):

Four members of the house had 7 votes, seven variations in first name, and 5 variations in surnames as summarised in the table below.





This is one of the hundreds of absurd errors I have randomly observed in the voter list. Analysing diligently with a software tool, we can unearth thousands of errors that can be corrected to improve the system.  These errors are not innocent, considering their bad impact on democratic processes.

Some members of Smart Vote visited Nandan Nilekani during the last BBMP Elections and showed him the voter list and pleaded that various government records can be and should be cleansed as a part of UID project. Subsequently I sent him a few documents and met his chief architect, as suggested by Nandan, explained the issue, possible solutions, and offered my help. Nothing further happened at UIDAI with my ideas and suggestions. I still am convinced that Adhaar project is an opportunity to improve some government records.

On 10 April 2010 I presented the issues in National Conference of Association for Democratic Reforms held at Bhopal, suggesting some solutions. The conference was attended by many officials from Election Commission, including Mr. Chawla, the CEC. Here is his talk in the conference. After my presentation, several people from the audience discussed the situation with me and some officials promised action. Inaction?

Dr. Meenakshi Bharath organised a few meetings with CEO and SEO of Karnataka where we demonstrated blatant problems in the process of creating and maintaining the voter list and suggested approaches to improve the situation. We were told that the Election Commission was aware of all our observations and were already doing whatever we suggested. We were to have a error-free, bullet proof, shining voter list by August 2010. We also tried in vain to meet the CEC team when they visited Bangalore in late 2010.

CEO Karnataka site has published draft electoral rolls as on 01 Jan 2012 of 27 Assembly Constituencies of Bangalore City on 16 April 2012. Let us meet Nilekani/ Nilathani/ Nilkani/ Nilekani/ NIlakeni family again. 

We still have 7 votes for the 4 people in the family of the person trying to get unique identity for every citizen and non-citizen in India. Variations in first and surname continue. Identity for voters is niraadhaar and may continue to be so for long. I am glad that all the members are 3 years older now – the main observable change. If this is the state of records of a highly respected technology professional, entrepreneur, and one holding the rank of Cabinet Minister in the centre, what would be the situation of others?

Nandan Nilekani’s case is only an example. Population of Bangalore was officially quoted as 80 lakhs. We had 66.77 lakh registered voters. CRY  references state “40% of India’s population is below the age of 18 years.” Yahoo says that 40% are below 15, quoting Census India. This would give us 48 lakh voters in a population of 80 lakhs. How do we have 18.77 lakh additional entries? More than 28% fake entries? Voter list bloats with multiple entries, dead people, and migrated population. There are woes that a large number of citizens are not registered as voters. It is equally difficult to get in to the list as well as to get out. “Till death do us part” does not apply to voters list – even death won’t take you out of the list. Your ghost or a proxy could cast your vote. I repeat, I am scared of my name being misspelled as ‘Bhoot’ lest it not part from the list even after my death.

After the BBMP elections, the then CM declared that he would bring a law to punish people who do not vote. If one person has 4 votes, and she is unable to cast more than once, whom will you punish Mr. CM? Clean your stable first.

When there is a problem of plenty with duplicate, triplicate and quadruplicate entries for one person, we also have a scarcity with many people not finding their names in the list even after registering. Thousands of names disappear from the list for no reason – including that of the previous VC of National Law School of India University …

When Smart Vote interviewed people after the last Loksabha elections, of the people who did not vote, 27.7% told that they found their names missing when they visited the booth. 41.5% told that they were not registered as voters. This being the case, fake entries in the voter list is far greater than 28% discussed in the last paragraph. How much bigger? We can analyse and give a truthful estimate.

My neighbour’s dead father-in-law is shown as her husband. My cousin is shown residing in a different house. One in ten people I discuss with has incorrect data in the voter list.

The fifth of the Twelve Labours set to Heracles (or Hercules) was to clean the Augean stables in a single day. This assignment was intended to be both humiliating (rather than impressive, as had the previous labours) and impossible, since the livestock were divinely healthy (immortal) and therefore produced an enormous quantity of dung. These stables had not been cleaned in over 30 years. However, Heracles succeeded by rerouting the rivers Alpheus and Peneus to wash out the filth.

Is the voter list an Augean Stable? Certainly not. If there is a will, we can improve the situation well before the next Assembly Elections.

About pgbhat

A retired Naval Officer and an educationist. Has experience with software industry. A guest faculty at different institutes and a corporate trainer with software development companies.
This entry was posted in Social Issue, Technology. Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Voter List – An Augean Stable?

  1. In a northern state they found Bulk fake entries! Its Bangalore turn!


  2. Pingback: Sniff the Electoral Roll | PG's Pensieve

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