It was my first phone call to someone in Bangalore and the reason I was calling them was to request them to register for the “Graduate Constituency Elections”. The voice on the other side of the phone said, “Excuse me, the WHAT elections”. It took me 5 – 7 minutes to help the other person understand what these elections are ? I had about 20 numbers to call and I could sense it was going to be a long night.
When these elections were held in 2006, out of an estimated 16 lakh graduates only 30,000 graduates were registered and hence only those 30,000 were eligible for the Graduate Constituency Elections.
I would actually question why does the Election Commission (EC) even bother about these elections with such a dismal turn out ?
They might just ask the ruling party to nominate the members in the MLC’s, at least people won’t have false hopes of making a difference through politics and most importantly the EC can save the tax payers money. If these elections are supposed to truly represent the graduates constituency, then inherently it becomes EC’s responsibility to educate the people, promote the elections, create awareness and encourage graduates to participate. Take a look at the below voter registration process
1) two copies of address proofs
2) two attested copies of degree certificates
3) an online form
Take all these forms in person to a nearest registration office and complete the registration process. It’s hard enough to get people to get to vote, especially the urban population and on top of this, these kind of registration formalities will act as a deterrent and discourage the graduates to register.
I might be over simplifying, but can the universities or colleges from which one graduates not issue issue the graduate constituency voter cards, for they have all the evidence and on the day of elections, one can carry an address proof along with the voter registration card to be able to vote.
Of course, one can engage in an innovative campaign or a voter registration drive something on the lines of “Ashwin Mahesh’s missed call campaign”. But then again, this creates a burden on the candidate or the party to divert it’s resources towards voter registration instead of spending their time, energy, resources on the campaigning, discussing/debating issues, engaging with people, become their voice, solve problems , this is far more important.
Ok, let’s keep the voter registration aside for now, take the counting process. I heard in the recently concluded MLC in Bangalore elections, certain votes were considered invalid. Now this is clearly unacceptable. We are dealing with a situation where getting a voter, especially an urban voter to vote has become a hercules task and when the voter somehow does vote, the vote is rendered invalid. Either make the voting as simple as possible or let some common sense prevail when counting the votes. And then we say every single vote counts, who are we kidding ?
So Dear Election Commission
- you don’t create awareness about the graduate constituency elections
- you don’t facilitate voter registrations
- you introduce voting mechanisms that are error prone
I can go on and on, but instead, can you please ask yourself, are you doing what you are being paid for or what you are accountable and responsible for ? You don’t have to answer, I will find out by filing an RTI myself and may be even file a PIL. Don’t want the same mistakes to be committed for the next elections. We can’t afford your irresponsibilities any more, it’s costing us dearly.