I have been posting about my less-than-ideal experience with getting my Voter ID (EPIC). When a friend posted a "how-to" process on the Hasiru Usiru egroup, I posted my responses on it, too.
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Kathyaynin Chamaraj posted it on the CIVIC group, too, and forwarded it to several people.
This resulted in two positive things:
Someone from Jaagore did email me and listened to what I had to say, and has promised to look into the Jaaagore form and make it work. Hopefully, this will make things easier for other people, even if the process didn’t work for me.
Mr Elisha Andrew from the Election Commission Office called me up told me he had read my "series of complaints" and asked what concrete steps I could suggest to rectify the situation.
The steps I told him were:
1. Make application forms freely available at ALL BBMP offices. Let not the clerks make the prospective voter run to another office just to collect the forms.
2. Let there be an easily-accessible enquiry counter at every BBMP office, giving, clearly, the form requirements, and giving information about them. There is no sense in voters joining long queues for getting information and then having to go somewhere else for the forms.
3. Let extra personnel be deployed at the BBMP offices. Surely, counters need not be shut for four hours at a time, and there need to be more than one single counter to receive applications. People in factory jobs work from 8am to 8 or even 9pm, six days a week…and here, goverment officials feel overworked if they work from 8am to 12 noon, and feel the need for a break of 4 hours for lunch!
Once again…Mr Andrew seemed to assume that I was instantly free to talk about the corrective steps I wanted to suggest. I was in a bus at the time, and the voice was getting all chopped up. I told him that I did have more to say (don’t we all!) and that he should call me back in about 20 minutes….but alas, he didn’t do so!
Other suggestions that I have: Ask for citizen volunteers who can sit in the BBMP offices and help people with filling up the forms. Many people do need help with this, and help is not forthcoming.
The voter ID registration form does not mention that a proof of address has to be submitted along with the form. But it is needed. Also, there should be clear directions given, that everything must be xeroxed, and xerox copies also submitted. One website said that the proof-of-address had to be notarized (it was not needed where we submitted our forms.) This is another time-consuming process, and unnecessary.
BBMP office clerks MUST get into the habit of answering phones and not ignoring them. The standard response I got when I asked someone why they were not answering the phone was, "I am so busy, where is the time to answer the phone?" The clerks don’t seem to realize that answering the phone IS part of their job. Someone can be given just the job of answering the phones and giving information.
All BBMP offices’ working and closing times should be clearly given on the website or on the telephone. Each office has different hours and this makes it difficult for voters.
Today, Mr Abhinandan of Janaagraha also called me to ask if I could volunteer during the candidate registration….so yes, there has been a positive response to my grumbling!
But…I am not happy that only because I am articulate and know the right channels to grouse on, that I am getting a response. I want EVERY prospective voter’s voice, and complaints, to be heard…I want EVERY voter to be able to apply for registration without too much of hassle or active harassment…..
(Eg, My husband and I have been abroad, and have not voted before. When the guy-at-the-doorway who vetted our forms saw this, he was most disbelieving. "How can you not have voted at all?" he asked, and demanded that we furnish proof of never having voted. If this is not unnecessary harassment, what is? ⊕