Sanctity of Voter ID in Karnataka

“Disqualify voter ID cards from being proof of identity and proof of address in Karnataka” is our call today. 

In an earlier blog we discussed about the mess with Voter ID or EPIC number. Subsequently, the CEO, Karnataka, published modified versions of voter lists on 20th and 25th July. When I repeated the complete process of analysis, reality of the poor state of electoral rolls was re-confirmed.

Voter records in the 27 constituencies under study still have the same EPIC story, worth repeating. 3,72,477 records do not have ID numbers. 29,277 ID numbers are repeated, invalidating identity of 58,544 voters. 2,223 voters have duplicate entries with the same ID numbers.

In this post, let us discuss voter ID. The numbers we discuss are with reference to 57,55,082 voter records in the PDF files published by CEO, Karnataka.

A page of the PDF document has up to ten rows and three columns, containing up to 30 voter records. Top of each page gives street address for all the voters in the page. Each record has the house number of the voter. When we suffix the street address to the house number, we get the complete address of the voter. Complete? You bet!

Numb House Numbers

  1. 38,861 numbers are longer than 10 characters whereas the data standards published by EC allow maximum ten characters for the field.
  2. 4,737 records do not have house numbers. 
  3. Eighty houses have more than 100 members each. E.g., in AC1660095.pdf, House No. 105 has 334 voters. Considering 40% of the population below 18 years old, this house should have 557 members. According to the 2001 census, some Indian villages have fewer than 50 residents. Wikipedia states that 36% of Indian villages have a population less than 500. Finding urban homes larger than 36% of Indian villages should create a record.
  4. In several apartment complexes, individual houses are not shown. Instead, all the voters living in the complex are shown in a single house. But, in dealings with organisations like BSNL, Banks, Gas, Ration Card, Schools … each apartment would have to be a separate house.
  5. In a contrast, 7,75,282 houses have only one voter each!
  6. Some voters are shown in wrong houses. Members of a family, living together, are shown in different houses.

Dead End Addresses

  1. The lists under study have 21,132 street addresses. With these addresses, I doubt if we can find any place. Examples of complete addresses are – S H I G-A; P M Layout; Bhovi Colony Right Side; Behind Kempamma Temple; Post Office; etc. With this much information and PIN, try to find the house.
  2. There are some 1-character long addresses. Maximum length of address value is 53 characters. 71.26% of the addresses are 20 to 40 characters long. Can we capture adequate address information with so short a text? 
  3. Roads and locality names are spelt differently. BP Wadia Road  becomes Vadiya Road, an area is called ‘Stage’ in some place and ‘Phase’ elsewhere. indiscriminate formats of words create innumerable variations in recording data of the same entity.
  4. We are required to give address proofs to register as a voters. Despite seeking proofs, if the addresses are not recorded correctly and completely, the purpose of the proof is lost.
  5. Addresses in voter ID card are often different from the one in voter list.

Sanctity of Voter ID

  1. When a voter is deleted from the electoral roll, EC has no process to invalidate or withdraw the voter’s ID card. Invalid card can be in circulation, like counterfeit currency.
  2. When data in voter list is updated, it is up to the voter to get the voter ID card renewed. EC does not have a process to ensure synch between the two copies of data. Though both the data may be wrong, they are differently wrong.
  3. Duplicate entries and duplicate voter ID cards abound.

Unluckily, many organisations, including UIDAI, accept voter ID card as proof of identity and for proof of address. If more organisations copy the addresses in the records of EC, errors and inadequacies will proliferate.

We have a strong case to disqualify voter ID cards from being proof of identity and proof of address  in Karnataka till the electoral rolls are cleansed and updated. We have to trust a document before we can quote it as an authority.

“People created the problem; so people can fix it.” – Rudy Giuliani

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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. Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to Sanctity of Voter ID in Karnataka

  1. kartik says:

    Excellent post. Given all the discrepancies you highlighted, I completely agree that the records need to be cleaned before it can be used as an ID.

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  2. JS says:

    Nice analysis, PG. Shows that the EC’s voter lists have been successfully corrupted by vested interests. However, there are still millions of people with authentic (and accurate) voter IDs who will be deprived by your solution to scrap this as an ID and address proof. That would be like cutting the nose to spite the face.

    With the increasing cross-linking of data by government, misuse of false VIDs will become increasingly difficult. And with civic watch dogs powered with technology constantly wetting voter lists, the EC’s lists are bound to get better.

    I disagree with you that “We have a strong case to disqualify voter ID cards from being proof of identity and proof of address in Karnataka till the electoral rolls are cleansed and updated.” – Till better documents are available to public at large, the VID has an important role in identity proof – shown by the fact that the UUID itself accepts this as a valid document.

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  3. JS says:

    Might I also add vested interests also corrupt party’s own voter lists and votes themselves for “internal elections”? Utopian ideals are necessary and good for progress, but without balance, we’ll only end up destroying what we’ve (imperfectly) created over 60 years. That can’t be called progress in any lexicon.

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  4. Srihari Kulkarni says:

    I was visiting the Taj Mahal in Agra where the ticket for Indians is Rs. 10 and Rs. 500 for foreigners. We had a group of people from Thailand in the queue who were staying in Delhi for the last 6 months. They bought the Rs.10 ticket and conveniently showed their voter ID card when challenged for nationality !

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