Chief secretary of state JK Banthia, during a meeting on Monday, asked the state’s collectorates to come up with strategies and hold special drives to help members of the transgender community and other marginalised groups acquire voter ID cards.
Despite the opportunity to vote for the first time under the third gender identity in the general elections next year, much of the transgender community has been unable to apply for a voter card, citing inaccessibility and absence of relevant identity proof.
The state electoral office has so far received only 40 applications under the third gender category. Community members say there are close to 2 lakh transgenders across the state.
During the meeting, district collectors spoke with Banthia on the issue of addressing the barriers faced by marginalised communities such as sex workers and transgenders in accessing social entitlements and social security schemes. It also included members of the state’s women commission.
“We urged the officials to make the process simpler for members to apply for a voter card, or even to open a bank account, since many don’t have any identity or address proof,” said Atharva Nair, general secretary, Astitva, an organisation that works for sexual minorities.
The chief secretary instructed all collectorates to draw out district specific strategies in consultation with the department of women and child development, social justice, health and education to address the issue of identity and residential certificates and hold special drives to provide ration cards and voter ID cards for the community.
Deputy chief electoral officer Anil Valvi said that there will be awareness camps. “The process has been made simpler for the community to get a voter card and they can get attestation from their ‘guru’ (senior community member) if they have no documents of their own, which we will follow up with a spot verification,” he said. "But response hasn’t been good and we need to create more awareness about it," he said.