Heavenly Virtues and Earthly Justice

Diligence is one of the Seven Heavenly Virtues, indicative of work ethic. I wish the Chief Eelectoral Officer, Karnataka (CEO), organisation showed at least some earthly justice in their work affecting the rights of citizens.

When the current CEO had newly assumed office, Dr. Meenakshi Bharath and I met him and offered help in improving the quality of voter database. He then told that he was aware of the errors in his database and was competent of cleansing the voter database without our help. He had set target of August 2010 to correct all the errors in the system. However, the system appears worse today with rampant errors and omissions.

In some earlier posts I have expressed grave concern about seemingly indiscrete and arbitrary deletion of voters from electoral rolls. Whereas there may be small errors in my counts, sample checks show them to be correct. My calculations are based on the data available to the public for the 27 constituencies of Bangalore Districts, published on 25 July 2012 as PDF documents at CEO website. The CEO can take these numbers as a pattern of the electoral roll status and get accurate counts from his official database.

Summary of status of records in the electoral rolls:

Valid Records from Original List

52,30,459

Added Records

3,95,978

Modified Records

1,02,379

Total Valid Voters

57,28,816

Expired Voters

12,383

Disqualified

1,648

Repeated

11,678

Shifted / Change of Residence

9,64,810

Total Deleted Voters

9,90,519

Total Records

67,19,335

Cleansing a corpus by removing invalid data is a necessary part of maintenance activities. However, in that zeal, if we delete valid voters without due diligence, we corrupt the system, lose trust of the citizens, and create opportunities for corrupt practices during elections. In current reality, a genuine voter whose name is thus deleted won’t even know about it till the day of elections – in most cases.

We do not know the process followed by the CEO to delete about 15% of  voters from the list. In many cases, it is easy to verify if the voter lives in the address shown in the database – in cases where the database has the street address (which is another pity). CEO can check if there was a phone bill, electricity bill, or gas bill on that address during the past six months. If the billing name seem to match with one of the names in the voter records for the house, deletion could be wrong. If a phone directory shows address of the residence, someone from CEO organisation can call the number and verify with the people living there. There are various other easy ways to verify voter records without having to visit the house – if only there is a desire for quality and truthfulness.

An example for incorrect deletion: AC1700201.PDF shows serials 176, 177, 178, and 179 deleted with reason as ‘Shifted/Change of Residence.’ They live three houses away from me and I meet them almost daily since May 1994. They have not shifted residence nor the house was unoccupied for any period. The names have been deleted with indiscretion. One can call phone number 2672 0774 installed in this house (1229, 13th Cross, Girinagar II Phase, Bangalore – 560 085) and confirm that the voters are in the house. Subsequently, if the CEO’s organisation wants a physical verification, they can visit the house.

There are several such examples of incorrect deletions. Who is responsible to correct such situations and give the citizens their right to vote? Is not CEO’s organisation denying voting rights to people by non-professional maintenance of Electoral Rolls?

My feedback is a request to CEO: “Please verify validity of each deletion. Consider it as your responsibility to revert invalid deletions from the system, without the citizens having to re-register as voters.”

My request to citizens: “Please confirm that your name is not deleted from the voter list. If you discover this late, you will not be able to get it on the list in time to vote in the next elections.” 

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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.
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