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Voter ID: the battle before the ballot

The voter ID card has assumed an important role in our society. For every other thing, there is the familiar demand for our photo, address or date of birth proof. An application for school admission, bank account, loan, getting a phone SIM, passport ……, all require a photo ID and proof for address and date of birth. All these demands can be met by the voter ID card.

It assumes even a bigger role for women as it is the only card which has all the three proofs. Women, unless they are the head of the family, do not have their photo affixed on the family card. Unless she has a driver's licence, there is no other legal proof available for her. So women crave to get the Voter ID card more than anything.

The battle to get it begins when election is round the corner and newspapers begin saying the race is on.

A hapless and tired teacher comes to your house and asks all questions. You reply to all of them patiently. The teacher is very particular about the spelling of your name, your husband or father's name, the date of birth...etc. All has been checked by you twice before you affix your signature on the form. You also give the latest passport size colour photo.

Your duty over?

You assume that you have finished doing your duty to the country as well, having helped yourself in furnishing the details. You also assume that the card is going to come very soon. On your part, your work is over.

Months later when you have almost forgotten about it, newspapers proclaim that the draft booklet is available for you to check the inclusion of your names on rolls kept in schools in the neighbourhood.

You set off happily to the nearest school. Now begins the tamasha. That school does not cater for your area. Still you trudge to another school and yet another. Then finally you find the one having the draft for your area.

Here starts another kind of fun. You have to find your area, street and then your photo. If you find that your name, photo, address and date of birth are correctly entered, then you are fortunate. Many of them do not find their names at all.

Mostly the printer's devil and the data entry operator's humorous errors play a big role.

You are faced with some of these scenarios:

1. Your photo is there but the name is different.

2. Your name is there but no photo.

3. Your name is there, but somebody's photo is there.

4. Your name is spelt wrongly.

5. Your husband or father's name is spelt wrongly or, worse, some other name is there.

6. Your date of birth is not entered or wrongly entered. You end up either younger or older depending on your luck.

7. Your address can be:

a) Wrongly entered

b) Wrong door number is entered.

c) Wrong street name is entered or, mostly, street name is not entered.

You are left feeling wronged. The battle to get the ID card is on. You get hold of another form to rectify or, most probably, include your name as the case maybe.

You once again begin to fill the form, affix the photo and attach the requisite photocopies of the proofs required and submit it to the authorities after checking all details a hundred times.

You think that you will soon get the corrected card.

And lo! The whole process begins and you finally end up having submitted forms for the voter card four or five times.

You lose any hope of getting the card. You attain nirvana and then begin saying who needs the voter ID card, “I do not want to be responsible for electing a corrupt leader.”

The election is going to begin in a week. Suddenly, you hear a knock on your door. Another hapless and tired teacher smiles at you and gives you your voter ID card full of mistakes. Before the day is over, you get another ID card, also full of mistakes. Now you face the dilemma — which card to use.

(The writer's email is: >plum4158@gmail.com)

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Printable version | Jul 14, 2020 4:38:13 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/opinion/open-page/Voter-ID-the-battle-before-the-ballot/article13375236.ece

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