Top EC officer gets sex change in voters list

Feb 06, 2012, 12:46 IST | Varun Singh

Electoral roll goof-ups: Gender of Addl chief secretary Chand Goel, 2nd only to state election commissioner, is stated as female; MP Priya Dutt's photo in the list is not hers.

Manual errors are inevitable, but tens of thousands of them, for something as important as the election lists, puts a lot of people in the spot. Even if it is a sitting MP, or the man in charge of overseeing the elections.  

Addl chief secy of the State EC Chand Goel complained that he may
not be able to vote because of the mistakes in his personal details

Chand Goel's sex is mentioned as F (Female) and his surname is also
wrongly spelt as 'Goyal'.
Screen grabs taken from

The state electoral list for the BMC polls on February 16, released a few days ago, has embarrassed and angered many, including the additional chief secretary of the State Election Commission, who has been listed as female. The other error pertaining to his basic information -- his surname has been misspelt -- pales in comparison to the first bloomer.

Chand Goel (58), second in command to the Election Commissioner Neela Satyanarayan, said he might not even be able to cast the vote because of this. 

"There's an F in stead of an M against my name in the electoral list. I had applied for the correction but till now the electoral list shows no change. Also, while voting, if any person objects on account of this error, I may not be able to vote, unless the presiding officer is convinced that the person in the list is indeed me," said Goel.

'How do I vote?'
Member of Parliament Priya Dutt from North Central Mumbai has her own complaints. She can't recognise her face on the electoral list because it's not hers. Her photo has been switched with someone else's. Also, one won't be able to find her in the English language list available online because her surname is spelled as 'Datt'.

See something amiss? The picture next to Priya Dutt's name
(top right) is not hers: Ratna Gupta (bottom right) shares it; Sanjay Dutt's
wife Maanayata (Dilnasheel Dutt) also shares the same picture as one
Shivani Gupta; addl chief secy of the State EC Chand Goel (left)
complained that he may not be able to vote because of the mistakes
in his personal details

Like Goel, she had applied for the rectifications to be made in the information but the list remains unchanged. She said that she, along with residents of her area, went to a school in Khar for the changes to be made, and even gave her pictures, but to no avail.

Dutt may face the problem while voting if anyone raises an objection. "These things come to the fore during elections because that is when we see the lists. However, if anyone raises any objection when I'm voting, I may face problems. I will carry all sorts of identification proofs and request everyone to do so. After elections, we will carry out a campaign so that at least the names and other such details are rectified before the next election," said Dutt.

According to a group of people who complained to the Commission on Saturday regarding the irregularities in the list, the gender of many other male candidates has been wrongly mentioned as female. Furthermore, the age of many people has been stated as falling in the bracket of 0-17 years.

"There are no less than a lakh of such mistakes in the electoral list. The most glaring is that there are mistakes regarding basic information of the man (Goel) who is supposed to oversee the whole election procedure," said IT professional Bharat Sharma, one of the complainants.

Sharma said the election office could have rectified the problems. "It doesn't take much time to do it. There are so many NGOs that would have done this for free," he said.

'Try our helpline'
The state Election Commission claims it can't really be blamed for a list it received from the Election Commission of India.

Said Goel, "We cannot tamper with the list. We have published it the way we received it from the Election Commission of India. We did keep our offices open for appropriate changes to be done, before it was finally released on January 5. Apart from this, the search option is available on our website. We also have helpline numbers, which are easily accessible to the common man."

Helpline is helpful
The helpline number put up by the election office to address public grievances -- and set right errors of spelling gender etc -- gets a thumbs-up from MiD DAY. Anyone who has used a mobile phone or spoken to the customer care centre can easily navigate it. There are choices of languages, and the person answering the query is polite and well spoken. Your full name and exact address will help the help desk locate you better. The information that you can get from the helpline is the ward number, polling booth address, and even your voter id number. The website also is easily accessible, and has two options of search, either by name or by ward number. If you can't find yourself despite typing the full name, it's suggested that you should just fill in the initials of your first name and last name. Having said that, it is a tedious task to find the name out of thousands.
Helpline: 9225320011

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