Contempt to Feedback

On 7th March 2013, the Chief Electoral Officer of Delhi (CEO-DL) stated that:  the electoral rolls of Delhi had about 15 lakh bogus voters, based on a house-to-house survey. There were several cases of duplicate entries. Notices were being sent to all the doubtful cases.

That apart, the rolls had about 1.5 lakh EPIC numbers each with multiple records. Thus, the EPIC number was not unique to a voter in more than 3 lakh cases.

CEO-DL published next version of electoral rolls in July 2013. These were integrated rolls and the public documents did not mark individual voter records as original, added, deleted or corrected. With initial analysis we could tell that there were no duplicate EPIC numbers and the voter count reduced by about 10.5 lakh. I interpreted this as improvement in quality.

CEO-DL published the next versions of the rolls in Sep and Nov 2013. Voters count increased by 13 lakh. Now, the data make us suspect that lakhs of genuine voters are deleted and lakhs of duplicate entries continue to plague the lists.

Guidelines to electoral roll observers include a check, “How many EPIC holding voters have been deleted? Can they be listed and test verified?” More than 15 lakh entries with EPIC numbers, found in the rolls of January 2013, were missing from the rolls of November 2013. About 2 lakh of the deleted seem to be repeated records because the name, age, sex, and relative names match. The remaining 13 lakh require investigation. On 30 November I wrote to CEO-DL asking if proper procedures were followed to delete such a large number of voters. Despite a few repeated requests seeking this information, CEO-DL has not responded.

news report on 4th December 2013 shows that large number of people lost their right to vote, suggesting mass illegal deletion of voters. Though I had written to CEO-DL about the suspected incorrect deletions in most of the booths in Delhi, he gave a press statement: “We’ve received information only about a constituency in South Delhi and we’re looking into the matter. If we find any deletion has been made without verification, strict action will be taken against the erring officials and an inquiry will be ordered. For those left out, a summary revision as per routine will start after the elections to revise the electoral rolls.”

It will be interesting to know what investigations were done and what actions followed.

Talk of actions. Electoral rolls of Delhi have rampant duplicate records. I have been reporting to CEO-DL since July 2013 about this, with references to specific records of more than 10 lakh groups of suspected duplicate entries. This affects about 36 lakh records, which require verification. I have ranked the records to six categories based on the possibility of duplication. Field verification can be simplified by comparing the photographs of suspected records using software. Little response from CEO-DL though his press statement in March stated that he would remove duplicate entries from the rolls.

The error pattern and CEO behavior are similar in Karnataka and Delhi. Dissonance between claims, stated intentions, and action on the ground. Above all, contempt for feedback and deliberate distancing from citizens.

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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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