Identity crisis at electoral offices

March 17, 2013 10:09 am | Updated June 13, 2016 12:49 pm IST - NEW DELHI:

Scene at Kalyanpuri voters' centre in East Delhi. Photo: Shanker Chakravarthy

Scene at Kalyanpuri voters' centre in East Delhi. Photo: Shanker Chakravarthy

While the sifting out of dubious persons from the voter rolls is proceeding steadily, the scene at the Electoral Office in Trilokpuri Block 2 is a reflection of the problems people face when identification documents like the voter identity card have details wrongly entered or need corrections.

Inside the small office, a majority of the space is taken up by the large bundles of printed notices that are to be pasted outside the residences of people who could not be identified by booth-level officers during their house-to-house survey asking them to appear in person to prove their credentials. A clerk at the office said that booth-level officers are in the process of pasting these notices but the process is yet to pick up speed.

Most of the people who come to this office have other woes. Some have lost their voter ID cards, some have mistakes on them like the name printed wrongly or photograph not visible, some want addresses changed, and a majority have problems getting these cards made for the first time.

Amit Kumar, who just turned 26, claimed he is getting his voter ID made for the first time but the officer in charge does not trust his credentials because he is making his card so late in life. “I somehow never felt the need to vote earlier. I have an Aadhar card and my father’s ration card has my name entered too. My brother, who is younger to me, was enrolled in this very office. The officer here thinks I have my name already on the roll and I want to get more cards made and I haven’t managed to convince her that I am a genuine applicant,” rued Amit.

Another man, Ranjit, showed his voter ID card. The photograph on the card was completely blackened. Ranjit claimed this was the condition he received the card in. His claim appeared to be genuine as there was no sign of any overwriting with ink. Another woman had her name written wrongly.

There are three forms available at the election office. Form No. 6 is for new applicants like Amit. Form No. 7 is for those who object to the inclusion of somebody in the electoral roll and for those persons who seek deletion of their names from the roll. Form No. 8 is for those who want corrections , and consequently their voter-ids. These are for people like Ranjit who want correction of photographs, address, name or other particulars.

Across the road from the electoral office is a tiny shop that also ironically serves as an unofficial facilitation centre for illiterate and semi-literate citizens who face difficulty filling up the forms.

Mukesh Kumar, a young man who runs the shop, said this earns him Rs.5 to Rs.10 per form. “My father is bed-ridden and I have two younger brothers who I have to put through school. So the extra money is a godsend. Here, most of the people come to me to fill Form Nos. 6 or 8. I have never come across a person who wants to delete his name from the voter-roll or people raising objections to a person’s name in the voter-roll.”

An electoral officer said that people who change their residence from one Assembly constituency to another are compulsorily required to get their name deleted from the voter roll first and then need to apply afresh at the constituency they have moved to but this was not happening.

“Maybe it has got to do with what happened to people who surrendered their old ration cards but never got new ones made. Maybe they think the same could happen to their voter ID cards too,” Mukesh said.

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