BENGALURU, Karnataka — I am 62 years old and I work with a small organisation called the New Socialist Alternative, and we publish a website on socialism.in. Until January 1991, I was an employee of the Department of Posts, and I was dismissed from the service for my participation in the general strike of 1989, and for writing a piece about Rajiv Gandhi’s neoliberalism attempts, and how it was going to affect the youth and the workers.
I have been an active voter, and have lived in the same house for many years now, so it was a big surprise to me when I went to vote for the general elections, and learned that my name has been removed from the voter rolls. I was able to vote anyway, and maybe some people will benefit from my experience.
On the 18th of April, I was one of the early birds to walk to the polling booth of Basavangudi/ Bangalore South constituency, but to my dismay I found my name missing from the voter list. I have been living in Basavangudi, Srinagar from 1980s, and have voted invariably in all elections from BBMP to Vidhan Sabha and Lok Sabha hustings. Even my parents as long as they lived were voters of this constituency.
The polling booth was the same as it had been for the assembly elections, where I had recently voted. In fact, it was the same booth, in the same room of the government school. I approached the known faces who were helping voters to find their names in the voters lists, but my name was not to be found.
Because I am an old face in the neighbourhood, they said they would search it out. One youth found out my name through a mobile app, but it stated my name was deleted!
“The booth workers were not exactly helpful — unless you insist, they don’t take any extra work. They only want to do their job, they’re not what you call enthusiastic in seeing that every voter gets his or her vote.”
I approached the polling booth with that record, and I had brought my voter ID and passport too, and fortunately I had the voter slip from the last assembly elections, in which I had successfully voted.
The first reaction of the booth officials was that they can’t do anything. I said this cannot be the situation. Last time, even though my voter ID was old, my new voter ID, which had not reached me, had no photo next to my name on the list. But I still voted on the basis of my passport and my old voter ID.
If I could vote last time even without the voter ID having a picture, why were they stopping me now?
Initially the polling officer at the booth refused my claim to vote, telling me that there’s nothing he could do. But after a bit of a ruckus he wrote a new voter slip, and included my name in the missing voter list, and allowed me to vote.
I asked him, “What did you do? Am I back on the voter roll?”
He replied, “I have put you in the missed voter list. Your vote is official now.”
The booth workers were not exactly helpful — unless you insist, they don’t take any extra work. They only want to do their job, they’re not what you call enthusiastic in seeing that every voter gets his or her vote.
I was lucky to fight my way through, but there were quite a few who went home disappointed. It was my assembly election voter slip and lung power that saved the day. If the other people had argued or shown a bit of determination to vote, if they had insisted that they have a right to vote, I think they could have voted, if they had the other records.
Next day in the papers I came to know there were thousands who had to face the disappointment. One cannot but feel there’s a rat in this.
Was your name removed from the voters’ list without your consent or knowledge?