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Subversion of democratic process

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The SEC/ NIC/ BBMP combo, entrusted with the job of preparation and maintenance of the electoral rolls and issual of the EPID cards, has once again proved itself unequal to the task. The resulting inaccuracy levels of the order of over 50% across the state, is causing serious subversion of the democratic process.

A few days back, the ARO of our ward gave us a schedule of EPID issual programme, spread over some 8 days at 4 different sites, at 2 days per site. As an office bearer of the association in the complex where I stay, I broadcast this information to the residents, after successfully checking out the process personally on the first day. The experience of the people who heeded my advice, including my own family members, was disappointing, to say the least. There was total chaos and disorder at the designated centres, and they were all turned away on some pretext or the other.

Most of them are now planning to make do with any of the 15 other documents which have been notified as serving the purpose. However, given the whimsical ways of the SEC/ NIC/ BBMP combo, they will have to wait till the polling day to see what new problems they get to be faced with.

The above apart, when I say 'successfully checking out', I must also mention that the totally unprofessional way the entire job is being handled by the contractor and his people, leaves a lot to be desired. One can't imagine how as important a task as this can be gone about in such cavalier fashion, whereby any body who chooses to can very easily register any number of Bangladeshi's as voters.

All in all, the SEC/ NIC/ BBMP combo, entrusted with the job of preparation and maintenance of the electoral rolls and issual of the EPID cards, has once again proved itself unequal to the task. The resulting inaccuracy levels of the order of over 50% across the state (as admitted by their own selves), is causing serious subversion of the democratic process even at the very first stage itself, apart from posing a serious threat to national security. Correction of this anomalous situation has to be the first priority of the country if it wants to call itself a democracy.

Read more at 

http://praja.in/blog/murali772/2007/12/12/secs-muddle,

http://praja.in/blog/murali772/2008/01/23/bangaloreing-voters-list-review

Muralidhar Rao

Comments

George E Matthew's picture

Incorrect Presumption

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Mr Rao,

You blog post, if I understand it correctly, suggests using PRIVATE contractors instead SEC/BBMP employees for this purpose. That is exactly what is being done-the job has been outsourced to a private company and we can jsut see how rude, lazy and incompetent the private company is. They are not accountable to anyone.

Incidently, I had no problem getting my card in 2002 during a special drive to issue ID card. I had to wait only 10 min at most. The important thing to note is that this was not at election time which is at the 11th hour but in advance. Incidently, my proof of residence was correctly checked and I got what I wanted with no trouble. There was no private agency invovled.

The solution is as follows:

1>Make the electoral registration process a continous one that people do whenver they shift homes, not a 11th hour job just before elections.

2>Do not outsource it to a private company-it does not save money, it does nto make the process more people friendly/ I only make s private contractors rich

3> Utilize state govt staff to to the job. If you say there are excess staff anyways empolyed, they can do this work which is anyway only semiskilled and the state govt has labour in abundance with this skill.

4>Public who neglect to get ID cards in time cannot vote. No last minute rush. If you cannot be bothered getting a card when you shift house, too bad for you. You do not deerve to vote. This assumes, of course, that the electral registration office is opne all the time.

This conclusively proves that private companies need not be better than govt organizations. Let us evaluate each dept on performance, not on some random belife that private good, govt bad. the solution is planning, not outsourcing.

I congratulate you on hleping others in your apartment block to registers. This is exactly what good citizens need to do.

murali772's picture

incorrect understanding

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Dear Mr George Mathew

What I have suggested is to entrust the job (annual/ 3-year contracts) to 'reputed' companies, not to some riff-raff on lowest tender basis without even bothering to check their capabilities. For your info, the Karnataka government has entrusted the e-procurement of major items of stores for all its departments to HP.

As for the costs, none can be higher than what we are already paying on account of the existing shoddy system.

Muralidhar Rao

Muralidhar Rao
tsubba's picture

vote karnataka

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vote karnataka http://youtube.com/profil...
murali772's picture

no accountability, least on the citizens' part

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My wife and her friend went over to the designated place today at 3.30 PM to make another attempt at collecting the EPID card, and a notice reading "Issuance of ID card is cancelled until further notice" greeted them.

They were in a way relieved that the notice was a lot more clear cut, compared to their earlier experience when they were made to go around in circles.

A simple job, well within our capability, but plainly subverted by citizens not demanding proper accountability - that's how I would like to put it.

Muralidhar Rao

Muralidhar Rao
murali772's picture

crying need

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Now, when something as critical as issual of passport, particularly in today's terrorism-threatened world, can be outsourced (http://bangalore.praja.in/blog/murali772/2008/10/14/passport-three-days), why not the preparation and maintenance of voters' list, as also issual of voter ID cards?

Today's inaccuracy levels of the order of over 50% across the country (as admitted by the EC itself), is causing serious subversion of the democratic process even at the very first stage itself, apart from posing a serious threat to national security.

Correction of this anomalous situation has to be the first priority of the country if it wants to call itself a democracy.

Muralidhar Rao

Muralidhar Rao
murali772's picture

Errors of ‘EPIC’ proportions in electoral IDs

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To those used to the goof-ups on the part of government departments, this might still be shocking enough. Gender blunders, wrong addresses, misspelt names continue to figure in the ambitious Electoral Photo Identity Cards (EPIC) being issued in the city, making a mockery of EPIC’s catch-line “Use Voter ID card as age proof, address proof and photo card to get benefits in all the government programmes”.

Forget using it as ‘proof,’ the discrepancies in the cards that were issued recently are so glaring that it can’t even be used for casting one’s vote. There are also instances where an EPIC is issued to the voter, but his/her name is found missing in the voters’ list.

For the full story, click on:
http://www.expressbuzz.com/edition/story.aspx?Title=Errors+of+%C3%A2%E2%82%AC%CB%9CEPIC%C3%A2%E2%82%AC%E2%84%A2+proportions+in+electoral+IDs&artid=UZO30FTNQng=

Not something that we don't know already. The question is why is the civil society so blind to this serious problem?

Muralidhar Rao

Muralidhar Rao
murali772's picture

can you beat this?

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The following is what VM, an active resident of Malleswaram wrote to me:

I am VM from malleswaram ,we have been assisting the department for the epic campaign and i have practically seen all the numerous mistakes that are glaring and unacceptable.

There are many things that i have highlighted to the CEO and  am hoping that all those are looked into.  i just am giving you a sample of what i found during Nov 08. These are few of the cases during the last voter card campaign.

CASE ONE-
AC-157,Part-92,Sl no 844( Indira Raman DFK1609080) The Image and EPIC number in the roll is that of her husbands(Raman DFK1609338) Sl no 845) . At the DPL,the system does not allow to capture her picture. How do we remove the husbands image and bring her's on to the roll???

CASE TWO
Jaganath AC157mvm Part184-Sl no46- The recent photo roll shows no picture against his name ,he has actually got a card on1/8/08(card no STZ20331819) and since his picture is not on the roll ,we could generate another card on 11/11/08 (STZ3002813). who is paying for the second card???? why does the system allow this to happen???WHY IS THERE NO RECORD OF THE PREVOIUS ISSUE.

CASE THREE
Mrs Samanthaka  features in both part 78 and 79
Part 78 -Sl number 469 with door no-9/45  with DFK no 6237879-without image
Part79-Sl number 104 with door no-9/404 without image.
She had got a new voter id card with STZ number  done in the last EPIC campaign(Aug) and neither her image nor her id number is featured in the both the rolls.Why is there no record of the EPIC issue?

CASE FOUR-SHE HAS FOUR CARDS WITH DIFFERENT EPIC NUMBERS
Bhagya
AC-157 mvm
Part-118
Sl no-998

CARD NO1 . (23/04/08) Before elections,we had the facility to get the EPIC by giving photograph and filling form 002,.The vendor gave her a card but with a mixed up picture. (STZ0001180).

CARD NO 2 .( 04/05/08) After i  informed her , she went to the DPL and they generated a card with a new epic number.(STZ0269969)

CARD NO 3. (18/09/08)Wanted to check  if her number was  locked  on the system ,It generated a card with another number,(STZ0680165)

CARD NO 4 - (15/11/08)  CALLED HER BACK ASKING HER TO RETURN THE TWO EXTRA CARDS THAT SHE HAS. . SHOCKINGLY HER SL NUMBER IN THE NEW PHOTO ROLL HAS NO PICTURE NOR AN EPIC NUMBER AGAINST HER NAME. AND WE COULD GENERATE ANOTHER CARD ( STZ 2627412). THE SYSTEM HAS NO RECORD OF ANY OF HER PREVIOUS CARDS.  WHY ????

CASE FIVE
Jaganath
AC 157
Part 184
Sl 469
CARD NUMBER 1 - (STZ 20331819) dated 01/08/08. Card done in the Aug EPIC campaign.
This person came to the DPL center for his son and discovered that his picture is not in the rolls .
CARD NUMBER 2 - (STZ 3002813)dated 11/11/08. This person could get this card .THE SYSTEM HAS NO RECORD OF HIS PREVIOUS CARD..WHY???

There is so much of confusion on who needs to get a new card done!
is it the person with out an epic card????
is it the person with out epic number against his name???
is it the person with out his picture in the new rolls???
How do you tell the public about who needs to go to the DPL centers???
What happened to the thousands of cards yet to be dispatched???
THINGS WOULD HAVE BEEN  FAR BETTER IF THE EC HAD ISSUED NEW CARDS TO ALL THE REGISTERED VOTERS.
We could have saved time ,efforts,energy,confusion,anger,frustration and of course money!!!!!!!

Regards, VM

Muralidhar Rao

Muralidhar Rao
murali772's picture

HORROR OF HORRORS!

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Another lady wrote:

I WENT ONTO SITE AS YOU SUGGESTED IN YR BLOG, AND DID NOT FIND MY NAME. BUT,  HORROR OF HORRORS, SOMEONE ELSE HAS MY NUMBER! WHAT SHD I DO?

Muralidhar Rao

Muralidhar Rao
idontspam's picture

The deed is done

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EC publishes final list of photo electoral rolls

I checked my records on the site and they are in perferct order; so is my entire family's.

The comments above gives the impression that there are no integrity checks or security controls on what gets issued. Hope its not the microsoft one they plan to use for national ID number.

murali772's picture

also, my family's, but - - -

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IDS - my family's records are also there, alright. But, they are far from perfect. In each of the four places where my name figures (in individual capacity, as the husband of my wife, and father of my two adult children), it is spelt in a different way. My daughter's name is also spelt wrongly, and she is furious about the recording of her age as ten years older than she actually is.

I had filled out and submitted the 'form 8' pertaining to each of these over 6 months back. But, the corrections have not been effected.

Essentially, there are fundamental problems and they have not been addressed so far.  

Muralidhar Rao

Muralidhar Rao
murali772's picture

ADR co-ordinator's view

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My mail exchange with Mr Anil Bairwal (National Coordinator, Association for Democratic Reforms; http://www.adrindia.org/h...):

Dear Mr Anil Bairwal

Congrats on the successfully concluded Election Watch conference held in Mumbai.

Now, Sir, as important an issue, as I am sure you'll appreciate, is the most unprofessional arrangement existing today for the 'preparation and maintenance of the electoral rolls and issual of the EPID cards'. The position comes out clearly from a reading of

http://praja.in/blog/murali772/2007/12/12/secs-muddle

. Just this week, the Indian Express carried an article describing it in equally graphic details - it can be accessed at

http://www.expressbuzz.com/edition/story.aspx?Title=Errors+of+%C3%A2%E2%82%AC%CB%9CEPIC%C3%A2%E2%82%AC%E2%84%A2+proportions+in+electoral+IDs&artid=UZO30FTNQng= <http://www.expressbuzz.com/edition/story.aspx?Title=Errors+of+%C3%A2%E2%82%AC%CB%9CEPIC%C3%A2%E2%82%AC%E2%84%A2+proportions+in+electoral+IDs&artid=UZO30FTNQng=>

Apparently, Janaagraha, alongwith Microsoft, is in discussions with Central Election Commissioner to find solutions to it, some details of which are available at

http://bangalore.praja.in/blog/murali772/2009/01/18/unique-id-citizens-voters-list-and-german-registration-system

. There are though many things very unclear about this arrangement.

Yesterday, I met a person who had attended the conference, and he tells me that the CEC, Mr Gopalaswami, is fully appreciative of the position, and he feels that concerted effort is called for from the civil society to move the polity to effect the requisite changes, since apparently there are vested interests working to retain the status quo.

The best civil society organisation to lend strength to such efforts is undoubtedly the ADR. What would be your advice in the matter, Sir?

Regards, Muralidhar Rao

Mr Bairwal's response

Dear Mr Muralidhar,

Thanks for writing. Yes, these issues were also discussed in detail. The only way for people to listen seems to be is to exert lot of pressure, by mobilizing people, groups, discussion forums and whatever other modes are available. That would be exactly my suggestion.

Regards, Anil

Muralidhar Rao

Muralidhar Rao

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