Officials' carelessness may reduce city's voter turnout

Days before polls, many voters in Pune district have received voting slips with errors in names and addresses; some have been assigned a polling booth in a different constituency. Experts say voters could get discouraged by all the hassle of having to prove their identities and refrain from voting altogether

It seems the district administration is lax about the details on voting lists with correct names and addresses to citizens who had registered during the special voter registration drives conducted in the city in the last few months.

Slip-up: The Methekars of Hadapsar hold up their voting slips which mention their address incorrectly. Pic/Mohan Patil
Slip-up: The Methekars of Hadapsar hold up their voting slips which mention their address incorrectly. Pic/Mohan Patil 

Several voters have complained that despite government officials on election duty coming to their houses and verifying details like names and addresses, there are several mistakes in the voting slips.

This could spell trouble for voters on April 17, when they visit polling booths to cast the ballot. Social organisations believe that the glitches by the administration could have an adverse impact on the percentage of voting, if voters are made to wait at the booths till their identities are verified.

Sudhir Methekar, a resident of Hadapsar, said, "The government officials had visited my house in Agrawal tower in Hadapsar on Pune-Solapur road to verify my name, address and other details. They got the form filled up and asked me to check the website for details.

Accordingly we checked the website and saw that our names and addresses were correctly mentioned. However, a few days later, when another official came to our house to distribute voting slips, we were shocked to see our names and addresses had been changed."

Abhijit Kulkarni says his name on  the voting slip is incorrect
Abhijit Kulkarni says his name on the voting slip is incorrect 

"I stay with my wife, two sons and daughter-in-law in my house. But the district administration had put my elder son's name in another constituency, and the others in a different constituency.

My wife, daughter-in-law and I are enrolled in another voter list, which is different than the one with my son's name. How did it happen when we as a family stay under one roof?" Methekar asked.

"Besides, the address on our voter slips has been changed. Instead of Agarwal Towers, the slip mentions some Ankita Residency, Jayantkunj Apartment as our society, but there are no such societies in our area. Since we got the voting slip on Friday, we could not even contact any government office for corrections," he said.

Abhijit Kulkarni, a resident of Sinhagad Road, said, "The voting slip carries a wrong name and address. One teacher on election duty had come to our house for pre-verification. Even after that, these mistakes have been committed."

Rajabhau Hole, president of Lokkalyan Pratishthan, which works to enhance voter registration and voting percentage in Pune, said, "There are many instances of such mistakes in the voting slips distributed to voters. The government officials are not so serious about their work, and thus such mistakes happen."

"Voters will have to face unnecessary trouble at the polling booths. Many from the same family have been enrolled in different voter lists, which would make it even more difficult to find those whose names and addresses have been wrongly mentioned," said Hole.

"These voters will have to first locate their polling booth, then wait to prove their identity in case polling agents at booths raise objections at the faulty slips.

Our experience is that, as it is, some people are not so keen to come out and vote, and if they have to face so many problems, they would just stay away from the polling booths," he added.

'No need to panic'

Jyoti Kadam, deputy election officer of Parvati constituency, said, "Voters should carry their identity proofs in case there is any mistake in their voting slips.

They can also approach our booth level officer or help centre at the booth on the day of polling in case of any doubt about voting slips. There is no need to panic. All genuine voters will be able to cast their vote. We have asked presiding officers to ignore clerical mistakes on voting slips."

The EC has asked all districts to distribute voting slips to voters at home for their convenience. Voters carrying these slips need not carry any other ID proof. The district administration wanted to distribute all voting slips by April 13, but of the total 60.42 lakh slips, 38 lakh were yet to be distributed as of Friday.

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