Thursday, May 16, 2013

Applying and Getting the Indian Voter ID Card Online: The Latest ECI Initiative !

Unlike the Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI), the Election Commission of India is a statutory constitutional authority. The UIDAI though functioning only with some disputed executive authority has anyway moved ahead with the preparation of issuing biometric identity cards to all citizens of India and the Indian public seems to be obsessed with the idea of getting this ID called Aadhaar. [The large number of visits to my blog titled " Finally Aadhaar ID is Downloadable-Here is How You Get It !" is just an indication of this] Perhaps citizens of India have a feeling that Aadhaar would become the foundation of their existence in India as a citizen in the future !

As of now, all governmental authorities in India are working independently compelling one to feel the existence of innumerable governments and authorities determining their fate, rather than just one authority, who is in control. Then they cannot complain, because it is all due to their own reluctance in exercising their responsibility of choosing their governmental authorities, wisely.

Perhaps, the only way they can do it is by participating in the process of electing their representatives to the legislative bodies, the central parliament and the state legislatures.

When it comes to the conduct of elections in India, the authority that determines the process is the Election Commission of India (ECI) which is constitutionally an independent authority outside the supervisory control of the executive authorities. However, the ECI has not much independent machinery and infrastructure to do this of their own. It has to take the help of the existing governmental systems and infrastructure. Even the financial allocations for its functioning have to be from the executive branch of the government.

A good majority of people in the country are constantly on the move on account of their vocations. Besides thousands become eligible for voting every year when they attain the prescribed age for casting their votes and almost an equivalent number cease to be voters on account of death and other such incidences. In such a scenario, it is a Herculean task to maintain a fair and dependable voters' list, the most essential thing to conduct a fair election.

Considering the fact the the ECI has no permanent infrastructure of their own makes the preparation and updating of the voter's quite frequently a task prone to unprecedented errors. In reality, a good majority of people in India are not represented in the voters' list. There are ample chances that the same person may be included many times. There are also enough chances that a person whose name is included in a list may not be aware of the same. 

The work of the ECI in preparation and updating of the electoral rolls for a constituency depends much on the effectiveness and dedication of the enumerators and the staff drawn temporarily for the purpose from other governmental departments. As these staff do not have any permanent office for this purpose of which the common people are aware of, there is enough scope for the voters' list getting prepared in a manner which is totally unprofessional. 

For example, consider this. Some years ago, the ECI determined that a photo Identity card issued by them would be mandatory for any one to vote. Millions of rupees got wasted in making erroneous cards because there was no clear instructions on how the data should be collected. The names of the voters were noted down in vernacular languages and then transliterated in English alphabet making the person with a name that he or his family would have ever imagined. Such goof ups forced the ECI to back track from their mandatory orders making the voters Id a thing of ridicule.

But this also helped many in other ways. The prevailing election processes over a few years in the recent times eliminated almost all educated citizens from the voters' list of India making most middle class and higher class citizens getting separated from the election processes completely. For quite some time the voting percentages in India have been abysmally low hovering around 40-60 percent in most cases. In other words, the elected representatives no more represented the true majority ! The literate class has become a frustrated lot in India having no say in determining their political functionaries. This eventuality slowly happened without many of them even realizing the same. 

The literate middle class has become more and more reluctant in exercising their franchises. Either their names did not appear in the voters' lists or they did not bother to get it included or they simply did not know how to get it done. In earlier days, it was the work of the political parties and their agents to do all the needful to give all the relevant information to the voters so that the latter find no difficulty in locating their names in the voters' lists and knowing the polling booths where they could cast their votes.

But of late, the political parties and their agents have started showing a determined laxity in this. Knowingly or unknowingly they preferred avoiding certain sections of the populace from knowing their details so that they could exercise their franchises smoothly. On the other hand, their existed no facility wherein a voter can find out his name and his polling station by his own efforts. It is not surprising then that the voting percentages dropped down drastically !

When this is the situation for the literate and affluent classes, it is every body's guess about the reality that existed in the rural areas.

With this kind of a scenario that has been existing, it is a welcome move that the ECI has now begun in starting an online facility for the people to apply for inclusion in the voters' list in their respective constituencies in India.

I am not sure how effective it is in its outcome. However, one can now make an effort by visiting the  citizens' service website of the Election Commission of India.

The first thing one has to do is to register in the site by clicking the New User Registration link of this page. For registration one needs his or her mobile number and a valid e-mail id.

One you give this, a one time pass word is send to your mobile for confirmation which is then used to proceed to the next page for entering your primary information and your own passwords.

Once this much is done and submitted, a page will open giving all your profile information for final confirmation. You need to take a note of this information for all your future reference.

Your future id for this site would be your mobile number and your pass word would be the one you have entered while registering for the first time.

Later use this information to enter the site as a registered user.

Then you can make online applications for inclusion in the voters' list. You can also upload your digital photograph from your computer.

Once the online application is completed and uploaded, some officer of the ECI would visit you for verification and issue of the voter id card later.

I have not tried this to this end to verify its workability.

You may try yourself. If it works, it is indeed a praiseworthy effort of the ECI.

Unfortunately, it is not the way I thought it should be.

The ECI site indeed provides for the citizens to upload all necessary information about him including the required document scans, photo scans, etc to prove his idenity, address, etc. Besides, e-mail and mobile phone informations for contacts are also taken.

However, the next part of the process is a thing they could have made citizen friendly. After taking all the information, what the ECI proposes to do is to intimate a date of appearance in person with some of their low key officer sitting in some remote area of the region. Of course they provide the mobile number and the address of this officer and the date of appearance, just as the court or the police call you for an appearance !

They had done that with me too. Unfortunately I do not have the time to find out the the place where this person sits and go in search of that person to present me before him or her for the voter's id card!

Remember, it was the enumerator's job to come to my residence and find me there to make sure that I am indeed a person living there at that residence. How can they do it if I was to go his or her place of temporary existence ?

So for the time being, this exercise of the ECI appears to be another futile thing.

We may have to wait a bit more till the ECI people realize their flaws and rectify the same !

Note Added on 2nd Dec 2013

You should also consider reading the following blogs in this context:


The Unique Identity Crisis of India !



Unique Identity to All: the Simple Thing to Do




In any case, let me admit this. I have many id cards. Yet I have miserably failed to know whether I could vote in this country. I had been voting before these complicated address proof formalities and the photo id voters' lists got introduced. Me and my family have been photographed many times. We had filled the forms many times.

It is also possible that our photos might be appearing in a few voters' lists! The election enumerators are simply ill equipped and incompetent in many parts of this country. You cannot expect them doing a fine job! On the contrary, those very people who work for the ECI on temporary basis out of fear and compulsion could make the whole system fail by making deliberate wrong entries and errors.

There is no way to know how many of our people are really able to exercise their voter's rights. While there are millions in the voters' lists with apparently incomplete names and addresses, there are also millions of educated people with some standing in the society whose names do not appear in the same voters' lists.

These confusions apparently appear as deliberate. There is a general fear in the political parties who had been in power for some time to have only the pliable public as the voters. They seem not comfortable to make a system wherein all citizens are in a position to vote as guaranteed by the constitution.

The ECI is an independent constitutional authority. But the question is : Is it really independent? It is not. The ECI is fully dependent on the government, both at the center and the states for infrastructure and facilities. It can force and coerce government servants to do the duties of election. But it cannot motivate those people to do a perfect job. And that is a big handicap!

It is time that every one in this country give a serious thought of all these, to keep this great democracy to go forward without failing!

Added on 26th April 2014

Even with my best efforts and even after living in a permanent and well known address for the past three years in Ranchi-the state capital city of Jharkhand- I could not find a place in the electoral rolls and I could not exercise my franchise in the May 2014 general elections. This was the case with a number of my colleagues. Though similar conditions have been known in many other places, it is now that a national news paper has made a report about it. The Election Commission of India has admitted the mistakes especially with regard to Mumbai where some 200,000 voters have been reportedly omitted out. See the news scan below:



The Economic Times in its editorial today has highlighted it and opined that we should not discredit the Election Commission for such mistakes. See the scan of the editorial below:


Perhaps they said it rightly. Considering the fact that the EC depends mainly on staff and officers on temporary deputation for all kinds of election work, it may not be possible to do a better work as the control and supervision of the field staff would not be effective at all.

But it is any way a serious issue. Something seriously has to be done to improve the system devoid of such serious mistakes. If citizens are prevented from voting either selectively or erroneously it is a serious matter. It raises doubts on the democratic processes in India!

15 comments:

  1. How will i get my voter id card ,
    Trough online registration or by other form

    ReplyDelete
  2. i have appiled for my voter card but i have not received my voter card

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I personally know that a good majority of my friends,family members, colleagues and acquaintances just like me are not participating in the election process (voting) in India for the last many years not because we do not want to do it, but because we are totally kept out of it by the concerned authorities, either knowingly or unknowingly. First we do not have the voter's ID card that is valid for our current address. Secondly, most of us reside in middle class residential apartments which have sprung up in the urban areas in recent times for which the voting booths are not identifiable (by us). I remember in the good old days, the major party functionaries used to get us the required information. But in the recent years, the party functionaries at the local levels do not undertake this task for the middle and upper middle class people (in general). There seems to be a general understanding among the various political parties that it is better to avoid this group of the electorate! No wonder then that the Indian voting percentage is abysmally low. It might be good for the political parties to keep the well informed citizens tactically out from voting ! It this group could exercise their franchises then the election outcomes would be some thing else !
      Against this backdrop, it is not surprising that you could not get your voter card. If any one conducts a survey on this, the results might reveal the ground realities of democratic functions in India !

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    2. Let me further add this: I too could not get the voter ID card through the process of online registration !

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  3. Yesterday, there was a communication from someone that a few persons would be in our locality for updating the voter list of our locality. I too went. The situation was pathetic and of utter chaos. The enumerators chosen by the authorities appeared totally incompetent. Almost everyone had some problems. For some the address is not correct, for some the names are not spelled correctly, many did not find their names in the list, those whose names appear in the list did not get their ID cards, many do not have their photographs, etc, etc. The list do not follow any logical rule. Neither it is alphabetical, nor it is as per the geography. So one can imagine the task of locating anyone's name in the list. Again, the Hindi loving authorities first make the list in Hindi and then transliterate it into English (can you imagine any thing more foolish than this?) So, the effect is that not even 20% of those in our locality of 1000 odd voters (residing in a well known area of a capital city) would not be able to vote for all practical purposes! The enumerators (mostly lady teachers of government run primary schools!) and their 'outsourced' computer data entry operators together make the things much complicated. Even with all this, I can tell one thing: if the authorities want to do it properly, they can do it. But they are also people of India with their own individual agendas which many times contradict the national agenda. So things cannot be any better for the time being in a general way, even when we find some excellent works here and there!

    ReplyDelete
  4. Thanks for the auspicious writeup. It in reality was a amusement account it.

    Look complicated to more introduced agreeable from you! However, how could we communicate?


    Here is my page ... More Help ()

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Dear friend, Thanks for the effort you made to express your views. Regrettably, I didn't get much of what you wrote. Anyway, my suggestion to all my esteemed readers is that you express and share your views using the comment facility. It is not necessary always to be anonymous.There are many options to reply. Remember, individually we achieve nothing, but collectively we can do at least something for the betterment of the society !

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  5. Voter Photo ID Cards most important to cast the votes in Indian Constitution. Your article has the Good Signs to those who are in need of getting their Voter ID Cards. Thanks for you Best Articles.

    ReplyDelete
  6. The general elections of 2014 in India this time made much news and enthusiasm among the voters. Voting percentage has been reported as higher than in previous times.
    Elections in my own constituency is also over. Regrettably I and my family members could not vote as I failed to get my voter ID card even after my best possible efforts. And Ranchi's voting percentage is lower than other states. It shows poor administration by the concerned state EC officials. As I have stated earlier, a good number of people with good standing in the society in this place could not vote due to such mismanagement by the concerned officials. While the ECI showcases some of its efforts to chase some lonely voter in some remote place, its honest election administration system efficiency is to be doubted when it cannot enroll well educated citizens residing even in state capitals like Ranchi!

    ReplyDelete
  7. The Gujarat state government has reportedly passed a law that now makes it a punishable offence for not exercising their franchise. But the moot question is how do they implement it when half of the people are not in the voter list?

    Today one of my junior colleague was telling his own experience. He have been a returning officer and an observer for many years. He is a public servant. But he has not voted so far because he is not in any voter list. This is not an isolated case. It is true with almost all government, PSU and private employees who are with transferable jobs. It is time that the authorities think with a cool head to resolve this issue.

    ReplyDelete
  8. In earlier days it was necessary to have Elector's Photo ID to be a part of voting but now a days rules have changed.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yes, you are right. The Voter ID card is not mandatory now. What you need to have is to place your name enrolled in the voters' list and knowing the details of your enrollment and finding your voters' booth.
      The ECI states that it could be done online. Yes, infact stage-1 of the process is easy. However, the problem lies with the stage-2. That involves actually submitting the hard copies of your address and ID proofs checked and verified by your designated local election officer. Some of them do their work properly while some of them do not. In such a situation, there is also a likelihood that your name exists in the voters' list, but you are not aware of it to vote. Perhaps some one else does the voting for you! When you upload all your documents online, I do not understand the logic of having them submitted in hard copies again. It should be the responsibility of the invisible local election officer to check it if required. Besides, the ECI should also consider displaying the individual voter's voter id and booth details in the website once the registered voter is logged in. These could be done easily if the ECI is serious about it.

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  9. thanks for sharing..apply online for Voter Id card

    ReplyDelete
  10. Good share and well informative article for all indians.Thanks Rajan.

    Voter id Card Status Check

    ReplyDelete
  11. Your blog article is really very nice in which you have discuss about current legal issues, that's why I love your blog. Thanks for sharing with us and keep updating us.

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    ReplyDelete

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