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EPIC obtaining - a pain in the neck

I want to vote, I want my photo ID Card, but....

There is a wave of awareness amongst the citizens to go and vote but Election Commission has said those without voters ID card they will not be allowed to vote. This may be in the right direction. But the process of obtaining an ID card continues to be an onerous and painful task; many valuable working hours have to be spent in Qs at the facilitation centers but are these centers citizen friendly? It appears doubtful.

Hundreds of citizens were running in circles at the Bannimantap and other facilitation centers since the processes involved were not as easy as trumpeted by the election officials. AND THERE WERE MIDDLE MEN..

A few 'volunteers' were seen sitting right in front of Bannimantap center and making hay while the sun shined. Gullible people were being charged anywhere between Rs.10 and Rs.20 to fill up the prescribed forms 6, 7 etc., and other charges for getting photographed etc.  The scenario was totally confusing because these things were going on under the very nose of election officials present at the center.

It was a pathetic scene since there at the VFC.  no proper directions to citizens by the officials; there were a few handwritten list containing names of areas and a few officials present were simply wading through the old electoral list and they themselves were not able to answer to various questions of the milling crowd.

It will not be a wonder if people get disgusted and say 'to hell with elections' ultimately resulting in less than the average percentage of votes in previous elections; resulting in hung verdict, horse trading, unholy alliances, 'live-in' arrangements etc.  If these things happen, then Election Commission will be held responsible for shoddy handling because it will be creating another electoral list, dubbed by the media, as the 'Mother of all frauds'. 

Huge amount of public money - approximately 10,000 plus crores will have to be necessarily spent for making preparations to conduct elections for an anticipated electorate of 714 million all of whom may not be able to exercise their franchise, even if they are willing, due to absence of EPIC.  Previous elections: amount spent Rs. 880 crores but more than 30 million people did not vote; 2004 - Rs.1300 crores plus only to get an average of 55 to 60 percentage of voting.  It is learnt that Karnataka Election Office has received thousands applications through internet and processing them will take a long time and whether the applicants will be able to go to the VFCs to get themselves photographed is a question that has to wait for an answer.

It is better for the Election Office to evolve further simplified  processes without harassement to the illerate/ literate citizens who are enthusiastic to exercise their franchise;  so much of confusion and swindling of poor people does not augur well for our democratic movement. Also allow citizens to vote this time with the old method of producing identity proof the booth level.

Vasanthkumar Mysoremath
Convenor: Voters Awareness Movement
Tilak Nagar, Mysore

Mani1972's picture

Response from Manivannan

Dear Sir,

Thanks for taking time to write on this subject. My response is as below:

1. At the outset, let me agree that the 'facilitation' is not up to the expectation of the citizens. I have myself inspected the centers a couple of times, pulled up officers and even issued notices for departmental enquiry also. 

2. The reasons are:

1) This is the first time the Election department is experimenting with a "facilitation center'. Earlier the situation was much worse, with citizens running from pillar ro post not knowing where to go. The staff involved lack citizen orientation and it takes time to train them. Also the number of citizens coming to center is increasing much more everyday, demanding the plans to be reworked every alternate day! The facility involves co-ordination between 3 agencies. Software from CMC. Run by private agency called 'Komat' and date entry by another agency 'sumuk'.

2)The software has a limitation of not running in more in 2 computers (read, EPIC card machines) at a time for each constituency. The software has been made by CMC. We are communicated with CMC and trying to make the software run in a LAN. This is the  bottle neck, as it allows only 2 persons to be photographed at a time (5 mins). This long Q is there at all centres.

3)The processing involves back office work of officials visiting the citizen's house, for verification and cross checking the details. This is a huge task and with mediocre staff, it gets delayed.

3. Now what we are going to do? We can't give excuses and sit quite. We have taken up the following measures.

1) The centres are made more citizen friendly by displaying huge boards, making more counters etc. More officials and computers are deployed who will help the citizens with forms, so that middle men are avoided.

2) In case of problem of middle men or any other issue, the citizens can call 1077 and lodge a complaint. We take action immediately. You can also call the concerned AEROs. For CR: 94498.41066 (DC, MCC), KR: 94498.41071 (RO, MCC) and NR: 94498.41072 (Council secy, MCC).

3) In spite of all these efforts there will be still citizen who will miss the EPICs. For these the District administration is taking an citiizen friendly, and an unprecedented step of going house by house and taking photographs. This will be done from the next week as it involves preparation time of purchasing/hiring 200 digital cameras, mobilizing manpower etc. We will be giving details in the press note soon. Hope the Mysore citizens will make use of it! 

My request to citizens will be, to make extra effort and bear the inconvenience, for the sake of the most important duty of voting. We pledge that we will improve ourselves.

Lastly, i would like to talk to you and discuss regarding other election related issues, as I found that you have done lot of work in this area. Kindly sms/mail me.




Vasanthkumar Mysoremath's picture

Sir, VOW.. and thank you..a pleasure

Dear Sir,

Very kind of you and I look forward to the pleasure of meeting you.
Your proposal of grassroot level of finalising the process of giving Voters ID card by going to the door steps of the citizens with Digital Cameras is a classic example of how services can be delivered by being a little more concerned about the difficulties the people are experiencing.  This reminds me of the saying - If muhammad cannot go to mountain, mountain will come to Muhammad.  My suggestion here is, it has to be ensured that the citizens particularly the illiterates, unemployed and housewives and others in the lower strata,  keep necessary documents ready for verification and further processing. This may eliminate the second visit by officials.  Forms may have to be filled up by volunteers, drawn from NGOs/RWAs/NSS/NCC volunteers to create a near perfect electoral list.

I have created a module called C I V I L with G I S (Citizens Initiative for Voters Innovative List with Geographical Information System). and will be happy to give a power point presentation of what can be done by citizens to help themselves for obtaining not only EPIC but other basic facilities and amenities from service providers by being a little proactive and by discharging their constitutional duties and responsibilities, in addition to claiming their rights.

I did visit your office a few times to meet your goodself but due to your preoccupations, your personal staff assured me that they will call me back when DC is free. But....?!
Thanking you once again and may your tribe increase.

With kind regards
Vasanthkumar Mysoremath
98459 50440

E.R. Ramachandran's picture


I went to Zonal office  4 near Akashavani Bhavan in Yadavagiri. The photograph, signing a document and collecting the card after lamination took less than 10 minutes! I am not joking. The major problem is in searching through the files  and locating your name  in the concerned ward number list.It is here  they could have made better arrangements to sit and sift through the files, considering there are more senior citizens who throng these epic places! But the staff were cooperative and I didn't find any middlemen. But it is a learning process and more innovatve methods are needed to attract unfortunately unwilling and clearly fed-up voters.

Vasanthkumar Mysoremath's picture

Very good admn efforts but confounding confusion continues

Mani Sir,
Thank you for your kind call on 28-3-09 and for giving me an opportunity to give a power point presentation regarding CIVIL with GIS at the Corpn Office at 4.30 PM, which, I hope will be of help to Election Office, MCC and also the citizens. 

The brainstorming session was very interactive and it augurs well  for the system to improve. It is reported that thousands of people were seen on Sunday at the VFCs and my grassroot level experience was not as rosy as I had imagined, after the meeting. 

Sunday 29-3-09 - 8.45 AM - a fast moving auto with a mike system was blaring something stacato format - I caught up with a few words - voters card - government school.  Since I had filled up form 6 and obtained ack. from Bannimantapa VFC, as senior citizen, I thought it was a golden opportunity for me and my oestoroporosis limping wife to get our EPIC almost at our door step. 

9.50 AM - reached the spot - was happy to find a mobile EPIC unit and a few officials - enquired - an official who was a personified gentleman asked me for the address - then handed over a bulky Part of the electoral list to me to find out our names with reference to our house number.

9.55 AM  - started turning more than 50 pages in fine print

In the meantime, he was snatching away the list to answer somebody's querry...

11.30 - found our house number in one of the pages but found some different names against our address - explained to official - I had given form 6  at Bannimantap vfc more than 10 days ago and showed him the ack. 

11.40 AM - I pointed this out to the official - Was told that the present list does not include new entries because the list given to me was as on 1-1-2009.  I felt let down and I could not look at my wife's face who was squirming under pain standing for such a long time and trying to help me to find our names or address.

The official felt sorry for us and was courteous enough to advise me to go to VFC at Town Hall after a few days and enquire, enquire, enquire, enquire, enquire........and......????? 

Not all can have an experience like Mr.ER Ramachandran, hope he will read this.

We need to overhaul the systemic needs - simplify processes - adopt bio-metric voting methodologies -  help citizens to feel comfortable to go to the booths and vote without confounding confusions and with the doubt haunting them, whether their names exist or not.
Without being negative, it will not be a wonder if the present LS elections will result in 'minority voters rule' due  'EPIC only" attitude haunting and those with names in the list but without EPIC will have to stand for long hours to prove their identity and vote. 

Do something please so that we will have a vibrant civil society to respond to the call of democracy. It is now or never.

Life is beautiful (conditions apply)????!!!!!

Thanking you once again and with the assurance that there are people who have an undying optimism for establishing a better society to live in and want  a change for the better but with a system that works for their well being without confounding confusions. 

Enable the civil society - it has the capacity to deliver with vibrancy but with a little help from the system that should also be vibrant without strings attached.

I have a few more citizens/ environmental oriented solutions that have already been activated in Bengaluru and can be replicated in Mysoru for the  betterment of the society with a proactive admn.

With kind regards,
Vasanthkumar Mysoremath

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