Confusion, delay mark mass voter registration drive

Minchina Nondani, the mass voter registration drive that took place on Sunday across the city was not without problems. While citizens applauded the special one-day initiative, many said the process was marred by delays and confusion. In some wards, residents found the booths closed.

Change of address

Those who had shifted residence and wanted to register as voters in the new constituency were especially displeased with the system. Manohar Elavarthi, who recently relocated from Hebbal constituency to Bengaluru South, was asked to go back to his old constituency and submit Form 7 to delete his records and return with an acknowledgement, following which Form 6 would be accepted. This, despite the fact that Form 6 clearly states that it can be filled by ‘a person shifting his/her place of ordinary residence outside the constituency in which he/she is already registered’.

“What is the need for a voter to go to the old constituency and submit Form 7. It is such a complicated process, which will lead to people not registering at all or failing to disclose the existence of their name in another constituency. The election commission should automatically delete a citizen’s name from the rolls of the old constituency when an address change is mentioned,” he said.

Another person who shifted from Belagavi to Mahadevpura was first told that he could not be registered. After much haggling, the Form 6 was accepted, said a volunteer of Whitefield Rising who was assisting the booth officer in the drive.

Dhiraj Singh, who went to Yamre panchyat in Anekal taluk, Sarjapur Road, was also not registered. “They demanded a certificate for change of address,” he said.

Booths closed

In some constituencies, a few booths were found to be closed or were opened very late. Manzoor Ali, a resident from Jeevan Bima Nagar, took to Twitter to say that he found polling booths closed in his area.

P.G. Bhat, electoral roll analyst and activist, went around polling stations in Basavanagudi at 11 a.m. and found most of them not functioning. “At Vijaya Bharathi High School, Aduen Public School, and Shantiniketana High School in Girinagar (Ward 162) I did not find any official doing voter registration. There was no notice or any arrangement seen for the registration process. Some citizens were still waiting,” he wrote in a letter to the Chief Electoral Officer (CEO) and the Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike.

“By 11.30 a.m. I received a reply from the BBMP stating that Assistant Electoral Registration Officer (AERO) had been asked to open the registration process,” he said.

Residents said arrangement was lacking in most polling stations where the registration drive was being held. “In Mahadevpura, arrangements by the AEROs were missing — not even a room was opened up in the polling booths, and it was so hot and no water was provided for people,” said a member of Million Voter Rising, a campaign by Whitefield Rising.

Raghavendra H.S., who resides in Govindrajanagar ward and runs an NGO, visited nine polling stations and found them to be closed.

“Registration was happening only in the BBMP ward office, whereas the CEO had said that it would be held in all polling stations. I found people coming to polling stations and being asked to go to the ward office,” he said.

Case against two for snatching away forms

The Byadarahalli police registered a case against local political workers Mayanna and Kiran Kumar for disrupting the mass voter registration drive in the area on Sunday.

Sunanda, local booth-level officer, was enrolling voters at a school, when the two men barged in and started questioning her as to how she could conduct the enrolment drive. “Despite my repeated appeals, they snatched away over 450 voter registration forms (Form 6) I had from several booths,” Ms. Sunanda alleged in her complaint to the police.

The duo later returned the forms and fled, sources said. K.A. Dayanand, Deputy Commissioner, Bengaluru Urban, rushed to the spot following which a case was registered.

Hundreds queue up across State

Amid complaints about some polling booths not functioning to help citizens register as voters, hundreds of people queued up outside registration centres across Karnataka on Sunday to make fresh applications to add their names in the electoral rolls. The Election Commission had organised Minchina Nondini, a programme to have quick enrolment of voters.

Election officials were present in all polling stations, which were used in the previous election, to help people register their names, and the registrations happened in about 40,000 polling locations across the State. “Besides receiving fresh applications, election officials facilitated incorporating correction of name and address, among others,” said a source in the office of the Chief Electoral Officer.

On complaints about confusion over forms and polling booths not functioning, an official said it could be a possibility in such a large exercise, and that the commission would look into such complaints.

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