One of the banes of electoral rolls in the country is the rampant duplicate entries. Voter records are duplicated (a) within the same voter list, (b) in some other voter list within the constituency, (c) in other constituencies of the state or (d) in other states. For the past four years CEO-KA has been telling that they have great software using fuzzy logic, capable of identifying all kinds of duplicates. CEO also told in Feb 2013 that his organisation deleted about 65,000 duplicate records identified by software and considered that there are no more duplicate entries.
However, in the electoral rolls of 28 constituencies of Bangalore districts published on 02 May, just before the elections on 04 May, we find about 6,00,000 sets of entries with identical name, sex, age, and relation name. Most of such sets have two records each though some have more. About 82,000 of the records are repeated within the same voter list, which is easy to detect. As a common sense feature, data entry software should have blocked such entries. I wonder what kind of verification the EROs did before approving the entries. Even some MLAs and their spouses have duplicate voter records, reported to CEO-KA, resulting in no action. The CEO agreed later that duplicate entries were allowed so that no voter was excluded. We have a situation where about 2,00,000 of the mass-deleted voters are not yet restored, but have lakhs of duplicate and fake entries. CEO-KA is not acting to delete wrong entries; and not including the ones whom he has illegally deleted, doing injustice to the voters of Karnataka.
On a different note, we hear from the authorities that de-duplicating records is difficult. To prove it otherwise, I have identified suspected duplicates for 8 states/UTs and sent the lists to ECI recommending that using a software the CEOs compare photographs of the suspected duplicates and narrow down the list for field verification. Common citizens do not have access to the photographs of voters. That is fair.
Comparing 1.09 crore Delhi voters and 67 lakh of Bangalore, we find more than 5,800 sets of records with matching name, sex, age, and relative name. Between 5.78 crore voters of AP and 67 lakh of Bangalore, we find 53,000 such sets. If we allow for difference in age by one to two years, then we get about thrice as many match record sets.
This and many other ills of electoral rolls are not self-healing – they will get worse if not attended. We need corrective as well as preventive measures to improve the quality of the rolls. This is not a rocket science. I could do all the above work using my humble PC, in my spare time.
With some support from ECI and CEOs I can do more. CEO-KA has only ignored my feedback and has been disruptive on occasions. I have given the de-duplication software to ECI and showed them how to use it. It is not a rocket science. Using common sense approach we can do it easily with low end PCs. We need some professionalism, accountability and commitment.
If there is will, there are many ways. By ‘will’ I mean a fixed and persistent intent or purpose – and not a legal document declaring a person’s wishes regarding the disposal of his property on his death.