Reward the guilty and punish the innocent – EC Style

Bangalore Mirror has today published a story about a whole road missing from Electoral Rolls. The news story states “Eighty-one year old SR Venkatram, a long time resident of BP Wadia Road and an active RTI member who combed through the Electoral Roll released last month, found the missing road along with other anomalies.” Names of Mr. Venkatram and his family members are missing from the Electoral Roll though they have been voting in past elections. Now he is working on getting the names back in the list. When he should be regaling in stories and rhymes from grandchildren, the electoral system has dragged him to this unpleasant task of knocking doors of bureaucrats. We respect our elders!

A lady in my neighbourhood had two brain surgeries and certainly is not in the pink of health. Her name is deleted from the list. Should she be queuing up in front of ERO to get her name back in the list or take care of her frail health? This is brutal.

When I complained about this matter, surprisingly I got a call from someone in BBMP. The BBMP officer’s explanation for the large-scale deletions is hard to believe. He said something like, “The CEO had announced that all those whose photographs are not held in our records should send their photographs. Subsequently, we have deleted the records of the people who did not respond to this call.”

  1. I do not know when the CEO (Chief Electoral Officer, Karnataka) made this announcement and in which media. His ever regressing website did not and does not talk about it.
  2. How would a voter know if his or her photograph is held in the database of CEO? If every one of the close to 4 crore voters of Karnataka ask about their status, can CEO’s office handle the volume of queries? As his office does not have a culture of responding to queries and feedback, if 4 crore people send their photographs to be on safer side, can his office sort and match them?
  3. Is it not CEO’s responsibility to specifically ask the voters whose photographs are missing to provide the photographs and follow up? Ironically the CEO cannot reach them as most of the addresses in his database are grossly incomplete and useless.
  4. Why are such large number of photographs missing? How were the voters registered without necessary information? Of course, fake entries would not have photographs. After some time, it is difficult to differentiate between genuine and fake entries automatically. Some simple checks would show most of the genuine voters, though. If only the CEO organisation wants to check.
  5. Is it fair to indiscreminately delete voter records because the CEO’s records are incomplete? It takes good effort to get registered as a voter. Is it fair to delete lakhs of thus created records with one keystroke without due diligence? Not only the citizen spends precious time in registering anew, the CEO’s staff (which includes help from BBMP) too works to register voters.
    Apart from photographs, several other vital data are missing in lakhs of records. Why is there no concern about such inadequacies?
  6. To get the name back in the list, the citizens have to go through the registration process again. There is no guarantee that their name will appear in the list after this. Hundreds of people who registered during Graduate Constituency MLC elections did not make it to the voters list, while there were many duplicate entries.
  7. There are thousands of duplicate entries in the list, which we can find with ease. There could be lakhs that we can guess with evidences, which need more work. What is being done to delete them?

Reward the guilty and punish the innocent – EC Style. 

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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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