The first phase of the assembly elections in Karnataka saw 59 per cent voters casting their ballots across 89 of the 224 constituencies, which comprise the southern part of the state. But the figure would certainly have been higher if all those who came out to cast their votes had actually been allowed to.
The first election held after the delimitation exercise saw electoral rolls in a mess — with many being turned away from the booths despite having voted several times in the past and possessing valid voter identification cards. Either their names were missing from the voters’ lists, or their names and numbers in the lists did not match.
Thousands of livid voters, in several constituencies, staged protests outside booths demanding a repoll. “I sent in my application well in time when the list was being revised,” said Gopal Krishna, an IT professional in the BTM Layout constituency of Bangalore. “I have been going from one polling booth to another, but cannot find my name.” “The list in Kannada has my name against my voter identification number,” said Tabassum, a gynaecologist in Ramnagaram. “But the one in English had someone else’s name.”
Chief electoral officer MN Vidyashankar however, remained unmoved, ruling out any repoll. “We had given two months’ time to voters to get their names listed,” he said. “Those who did not bother may have missed out.” As for those with valid voter cards being turned away, he said, “The voter card is only one of many means of identifying a voter. It does not guarantee a vote. The name has to be there on the list.”