In a meeting with representatives of Smart Vote on 10 November 2012, the Chief Electoral Officer, Karnataka (CEO) and the Commissioner of BBMP had welcomed the offer from Smart Vote in registering voters.
Manohar called me at 1:40 p.m. I could not take the call because I was in a meeting called by Deputy Election Commissioner Dr. Alok Shukla attended by CEO, his officers, BBMP Commissioner and his officers. Then I got a text message from Manohar which reads, “BBMP local officials threatening to arrest us for helping online submission of ECID Forms”
A team of volunteers led by Manohar and Gopal of Smart Vote were helping residents of Sanjaynagar to register online as voters. BBMP Revenue Inspector (RI) Byregouda considered it an action meriting arrest by police. A few local politicians also came on the scene asking the volunteers to stop helping the residents in registering as voters.
I showed Manohar’s message to the Commissioner of BBMP. He summoned the three people of BBMP involved in threatening the volunteers and told them that they would be arrested for their behavior.
The matter ended for today when the RI called Manohar and told that there was no objection to the volunteers’ activities.
At Smart Vote site you can read the excellent work being done by its volunteers. They are already helping people in 25 locations to register as voters. In one weekend from one locality they helped 575 people to register online as voters.
An ERO from BBMP responsible for 9 wards could get 2,650 forms from the time registration opened on 5th November till 20th November, when I checked with him. He was yet to enter any data to the system.
When volunteers are doing the work in which the BBMP officials have failed the citizens, some people form that organisation threaten the volunteers with arrests!
Positive fallout of the episode is that we have a resolved case that will ensure no such interference in future. Should there be any intimidation, I shall be glad to intervene.
As per EC letter, the CEO is expected to take help from the following organisations as a strategy to improve voter enrollment:
(A) Strategies for easy access–
- Provision for online filling of application forms;
- Use of Common Service Centres;
- Use of Voter Registration and EPIC Centres (VRECs);
- Use of education institutions for collection of forms;
- Use of bank branches for collection of forms;
- Use of Post Offices for collection of forms;
- Use of Large Area Multi Purpose Cooperative Societies (LAMPS) and Primary Agricultural Cooperative Societies (PACS) for collection of forms;
- Use of mobile vans for collection of forms;
- Use of Haat Bazar in tribal areas for collection of forms;
- Collection of forms in fairs and festivals;
- Use of drop boxes;
- Use of Resident Welfare Associations;
- Collection of forms through Booth Level Agents (BLAs) of Political Parties not exceeding 10 in number in one day.