2471 Fri 15 Dec 2017 LESSON
Election Commission of India (ECI)
guidelines require all the Chief Electoral Officers (CEOs) of the states
and union territories of India to publish new versions of electoral
rolls in January and October every year. Most of the CEOs practice this,
most of the times. This October, even with the assembly elections
expected in May 2018, CEO Karnataka is yet to publish complete electoral
rolls as on 12 November. He has published
Kannada version the rolls for some constituencies of Bangalore on 03
November 2017. The rolls of 28 constituencies of Bangalore should be
published in English as well, as per ECI rules. CEO-KA is expected to
publish them by mid-November.
Delay in getting data and delay in justice both hurt.
There are two issues with the few electoral rolls Kannada version published on 03 November:
As per ECI, electoral roll PDF documents published on the websites of
CEOs should be text PDF files (not images ) and are public documents.
They are so in the websites all other CEOs.
Because the voter lists at CEO-KA website were text PDF files in the
past, we could extract the data and analyse since 2009. Feedback based
on the observations have helped in improving the quality of the
electoral rolls. CEO-KA has orally accepted so in several meetings.
By analysing the data in electoral rolls, we could detect illegal
deletion of about 13.5 lakh voters of Bangalore in 2012 – about 6
months before the last assembly elections. In 2015 we could detect
exclusion of about 3 lakh voters prior to BBMP elections.
After the Karnataka High Court judgment of Dec 2012 on a PIL about
the mass deletion of 13.5 lakh voters, in Jan 2013 the CEO-KA published
the electoral rolls as image files with CAPTCHA protection. Then I
argued with the three Election Commissioners (ECs) at their office in
New Delhi on 08 Feb 2013 that the action of CEO-KA was arbitrary,
discriminatory, and contradicts ECI rules. I requested the CAPTCHA to be
removed and the documents to be published as text PDF files. Again I
pleaded the same with the three ECs during their visit to Bangalore on
02 Mar 2013. CEO-KA was present at both these meetings. After a
directive from the CEC, since 02 March 2013 CEO-KA website has been
publishing voter lists as text PDF files without CAPTCHA.
When I spoke to the Joint CEO on 03 November, he told me that the
rules have now changed and they can publish the rolls as image files. He
did not give me references to the rules and was not free to discuss
more. I doubt if the rules have changed because other CEOs publish the
documents as text PDF files. The English version of the rolls to be
published in mid-November would also be CAPTCHA protected image files, I
New parts are introduced in the current version of the rolls. E.g.,
Basavanagudi constituency now has 9 more parts. Such changes would be in
other constituencies of Bangalore as well. This would result in a
change of parts and polling booths for lakhs of voters, causing some
confusion. In this context, it is even more important that the voters
have easy access to the voter lists to check their data.
In 2012, CEO-KA had wantonly deleted about 13.5 lakh voters
illegally. This was corrected by High Court order. A couple of months
prior to the BBMP elections in 2015, about 3 lakh voters were excluded
from the rolls. After complaining to various authorities and publicising
the story, these voters were included in the rolls just a week prior to
Subsequently too, there have been illegal deletions of voters in small numbers.
I suspect such exclusions in the current version of the rolls. In the
past lakhs of voter records were lost when new parts were formed in
Delhi as well as in AP. This is due to poor process and low-quality
software. Without getting the English version of the rolls in a format
that will allow text extraction, thorough analysis about missing voters
is not possible. We can only find a few sample cases.
However, I have a reason to suspect such deletion of voters. In the
latest rolls, I do not find my entire section with 202 voters in the
rolls. There could be several other such cases.
Search for documents and voter records at CEO-KA site, Election Commission of India (ECI) and National Voters (NVSP – from ECI) give us wrong data in some cases.
Such results from searches from the above three sites will mislead and confuse the users.
Messed Up Website
These issues were reported to CEO-KA and ECI in early October.
Blocked Entry, Blocked Exit
CEO-KA website home page has a link to “List of Claims and Objections” which gives the status of various applications:
The status of an application could be one of
When an application is rejected, the list gives reasons for
rejection. Thousands of these reasons are illogical and confusing.
Following is a summary of reasons for rejection of applications in the
28 constituencies of Bangalore.
Active and Inactive EROs
On the paper, various initiatives were taken by the CEO’s
organisation to increase voter registration. The ‘List of Claims and
Objections’ indicate that only a handful of EROs have been active in
registering new voters and deleting the shifted and dead ones during 01
January to 30 October 2017.
A few constituencies have received a large number of applications
while others have received very few. E.g., max applications for
enrolment in a constituency was 23,636 and minimum was 2,929. The table
below shows some statistics. This could indicate a poor involvement of
some of the EROs in registration drive and cleaning up the rolls.
KR Pura has rejected a large number of requests for deletion.
Mahadevapura and Bommanahalli have rejected a large number of requests
Some EROs were more aggressive in rejecting applications for illogical reasons.
Some EROs have a large number of applications pending to process.
More applications in a constituency would be a result of active EROs
cooperative and encouraging citizens to register as voters and active
Mismatch in Voter Counts
During 01 January to 30 October 2017, the 28 constituencies of
Bangalore received 6,38,801 applications in forms 6, 7, 8, and 8A. Their
status is given in the table below.
The above numbers would mean that the electoral rolls of October 2017
would have 89,697 more voters than in the rolls published in January
Voters in Jan 2017: 84,91,017
Expected increase: 89,697 (Added 1,86,492 – Deleted 87,697)
Expected total voters: 85,80,714
On 29 October 2017, a report published in Times of India stated that
Bangalore has 84,97,192 voters. This count is 83,522 less than what is
calculated as per the data published at CEO-KA website. The TOI report,
based on the numbers they got from CEO-KA offices is accurate to the
last digit, it may not be correct. The numbers don’t match with what is
published in CEO-KA website. If the count of total voters reported by
TOI is correct, then, 83,522 approved applications are not registered as
voters. Another loss of trust in the system.