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The Mother India

  A Home page to achieve Electoral reforms, true democracy & citizens sovereignty in India

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Post Office as Nodal Agency for Voter Registration

Although the voting eligibility is the same for all Parliament / Assembly / Local Bodies the electoral rolls for local bodies in certain States are different. Not only does it add to the expenditure, it makes revision of electoral rolls very expensive and time consuming. The more serious problem is that the room for falsification is enhanced. Therefore there should be common electoral rolls for all elections.

Happily, though errors in voter registration are common, they are also the most easily remediable of defects in our electoral process. All that is required is to evolve a process that is voter-friendly. Each polling station contains no more than 700-1000 names. If electoral rolls can be made accessible (displayed) to citizens at all times for easy inspection in a neighbourhood facility, and are also available for sale at a nominal price, then much of the problem can be corrected. It is very easy for the citizens of the neighbourhood to not only verify if their own and family members names are in the list, but also to check if any of their neighbours' names are missing or wrong names are in. If the appropriate statutory forms (Forms 6 , 7, 8,8A & 8B) are also locally available free or for a nominal cost of say 10 paise each, the voter can present the application, obtain an acknowledgement and await written communication of decision taken on his application. The local public office can be made responsible for acknowledging application and communicating action taken. All these changes can be brought about by mere revision of rules and procedures, and no amendment of law is involved. Statutory forms (Form 6,7,8, 8A &8B) also should be available free or for a small fee of say 10 paise each in the Post Office. The forms could be easily picked up at the post -office and filed, giving details for inclusion or deletion.

There are two public offices locally accessible to all citizens - the village panchayat and the post-office. In urban areas, the municipality or corporation may not always be accessible as it caters to a much larger number of citizens. It would be ideal if the post office is made the nodal agency for supply of electoral rolls, supply and receipt of statutory forms, acknowledgement of application and communication of action taken reports.The revenue or municipal statutory forms, acknowledgement of application and communication of action taken reports.

The revenue or municipal office can be the actual decision making authority in respect of such applications, as is the present practice. All we need is to make the process transparent, accessible and verifiable by citizens locally. A post office is available in every village, and is widely regarded as a user-friendly public institution.

The post office has a culture of across-the-table transactions in real time. Any citizen can be given access to the voters' list pertaining to the local polling station(s) for inspection, so that he can verify the accuracy of entries. Copies can be made available to citizens for a price, and they can purchase them just as they would buy postal stationery and stamps. The statutory forms in English and local language can be made available free of cost, or at a nominal price of, say 10 paise to cover the printing cost. All such applications can be received at the post office and an acknowledgement given to the applicant. The post office will then transmit them to the revenue or municipal or panchayat office, as decided by the Election Commission, for enquiry and determination as to whether or not to accept the application. The action taken can be communicated within a period of, say one month, to the post office, and from there to the citizen. In order to save public money on postage, applications and action taken reports can be bulk transferred, and the citizen can be asked to verify the action at the post office. The post office can maintain a register of application from citizens, and the action taken reports received from the electoral registration officials. Such a register can be kept open for public scrutiny during office hours. There can be common electoral rolls for all elections - legislative assembly and panchayat or municipality. The panchayat or municipal offices too can be made nodal agencies for display or supply of electoral rolls, supply of statutory forms, receipt of applications and communication of action taken reports. There can even be change of rules to make the panchayat or municipality responsible for revision of electoral rolls, addition or deletion of names, and correction of entries. In such cases, the process will be much simpler, as the post office and panchayat will be located in the same village. In case the decision of panchayat is unsatisfactory, there can be an appeal provision to the appropriate revenue officials. Display of electoral rolls on internet, supply of soft copies of electoral rolls in CD ROMs and availability of statutory forms on internet for down-loading are other means by which the process can be made more accessible and verifiable.

While this process of accessible and verifiable voter registration through the local post office involves simple and easy changes in procedures and rules, it will mark the most significant improvement in our electoral process at no additional cost. Even though a sizeable percentage of the voting population is illiterate, this accessible and verifiable voter registration will enable the literate population, civil society groups, voluntary organizations, and local political activists to verify the process and check irregularities. The very openness and accessibility of the voter lists and statutory forms will make a marked difference to electoral registration, and improve the quality of electoral rolls.


 

 

Table 1
SAMPLE Verification of Electoral Rolls (1999) in Hyderabad city

AC No.
/ Part No.

No. of voters in the list No. of voters verified Additions required (percentage to verified voters )

Deletions
Required
(% to verified
voters)

Total Variations
(Additions +
Deletions)
Col.4+5

% of variations
to voters verified
Col 6 / 3*100

(1)

(2)

(3)

(4)

(5)

(6)

(7)

210 / 54

981

825

16 ( 1.9 )

79 (9.5 )

95

11.52

210/144

1296

1296

478 (36.8 )

300 (23.1)

778

60.03

211/47

4135

1154

205 (17.7)

136 (11.7 )

341

29.55

211/229

1638

418

217 (51.9)

136 (32.5)

353

84.45

211/231

572

400

202 (51.9)

182 (41.5)

384

96.0

 

 

 

Annexure A
Verification of Voters' Lists in Andhra Pradesh
Survey of Rural Polling Stations

Details of electoral rolls verified

Deletions Reqd
(Errors of Commission)

Additions Reqd
(Errors of Ommission)

Variation

District

No. of Polling Stns.

No. of Voters

Shifting

Death

Other

Total

% to voters

By attaining age

By shifting

Total

% to voters

Total

% to voters

E.G

4

1289

166

36

 

202

15.7

31

50

81

6.3

283

22.0

W.G.

2

2086

37

52

 

89

4.3

24

23

47

2.3

136

6.5

Krishna

1

416

27

13

1

41

9.9

12

3

15

3.6

56

13.5

Prakasam

2

1297

43

38

2

83

11.7

34

12

46

3.5

129

9.9

Nellore

4

3084

87

79

15

181

5.9

60

100

160

5.2

341

11.1

Chittoor

2

1762

143

37

90

270

15.3

47

110

157

8.9

427

24.2

Kurnool

4

4648

488

71

1

560

12.0

82

128

210

4.5

770

16.6

Warangal

2

1399

51

15

4

70

5.0

7

12

19

1.4

89

6.4

M'bnagar

1

344

32

11

 

43

12.5

35

12

47

13.7

90

26.2

Karimnagar

5

3956

549

100

59

708

17.9

78

142

220

5.6

928

23.5

Khammam

2

2016

11

36

12

59

5.8

37

0

37

3.7

96

9.5

Rural Total

29

22297

1634

488

184

2306

8.5

447

592

1039

5.8

3345

14.3

Survey of Urban Polling Stations

Vizag

3

1298

355

22

17

394

30.4

82

413

495

38.1

889

68.5

E.Godavari

3

419

78

14

0

92

22.0

39

85

124

29.6

216

51.6

W.Godavari

2

1491

121

12

 

133

8.9

46

179

225

15.1

358

24.0

Krishna

3

1919

690

35

0

725

37.8

53

500

553

28.8

1278

66.6

Kurnool

3

1796

419

43

28

490

27.3

62

90

152

8.5

642

35.7

Nalgonda

1

797

273

5

2

280

35.1

34

125

159

19.9

439

55.1

Warangal

2

1863

320

28

30

378

20.3

43

74

117

6.3

495

26.6

Guntur

5

4060

1039

83

92

1214

29.9

209

604

813

20.0

2027

49.9

Hyderabad

5

4459

923

31

42

996

22.3

85

691

776

17.4

1772

39.7

Urban Total

27

18102

4218

273

211

4702

26.0

653

2761

3414

18.9

8116

44.8

Rural+Urban

56

40399

5852

761

395

7008

17.3

1100

3353

4453

11.0

11461

28.4

Source: Lok Satta's Research Data - 2000. The Surveys were monitored by Sri PS Bhagavanulu, Statistician

 

Table
Post-Polling Survey of Select Polling Station Areas

(1999 Assembly and Parliamentary Polls, Hyderabad, AP)

Assembly Constituency / Polling
Booth No.,

No.of voters No.of votes polled

No.who reported that
they actually
‘voted’

No. not voted or doubtful cases

Percentage
of doubtful
and ‘not voted’ votes

Residing in the area but not voted Left the area but residing within the city Left the city / country etc . Total

1

2

3

4

5

6

7

8

9

207/173

1143

625

483

5

91

46

142

22.7

207/176

956

459

377

15

41

26

82

17.9

209/93

725

428

306

20

95

7

122

28.5

209/75

989

495

380

42

72

1

115

23.2

210/426

893

476

399

22

49

6

77

16.2

Total

4706

2483

1945

104

348

86

538

21.7

Source: Lok Satta - Research and Documentation Cell: unpublished; survey monitored by PS Bhagavanulu

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