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Getting ready for the big day

Elections are foundation stones of any democratic country. India is the largest democracy in the world and conducting general elections in India is probably the largest event management its of kind. Umesh Sinha writes.

lucknow Updated: Jun 28, 2011 19:37 IST

Elections are foundation stones of any democratic country. India is the largest democracy in the world and conducting general elections in India is probably the largest event management its of kind.

The Election Commission of India is a permanent independent constitutional body vested with the powers and responsibility for superintendence, direction and control of the preparation of electoral rolls for and conduct of all elections to Parliament and to Legislatures of the States and Union Territories and of elections to the offices of President and Vice-President held under article 324 of the Constitution.

It’s a matter of pride for all of us that the Election Commission of India has been able to conduct free and fair elections in the country in the last six decades. Over the period of time, election management in India has become more professional and systematic and the quality of elections have become better and better.

Indian elections have become a role model not only in the country but also for world community at large.

Election Commission of India while celebrating its Diamond Jubilee year in 2010-11 emphasized that only greater and greater participation of the voters can strengthen the Indian democracy.

It launched several new initiatives for voters’ awareness.

It declared January 25, the foundation day of setting of Election Commission of India, as the ‘National Voters’ Day’ (NVD) to honour the voters’ and motivate voters to take a pledge on this day.

At all polling stations, functions were organized to distribute Electors Photo Identity Card (EPIC) to new voters. At state levels, photo exhibitions were organized in the state capitals.

Of late, the Election commission of India has initiated several new measures for the facilitations and convenience of voters. They are:

The Election Commission of India has laid emphasis on coverage of all eligible citizens as voters in the photo electoral roll and distribution of EPIC to them. Citizens who become 18 years old on January 1st , 2011 but could not register during summary revision are entitled to register now as voters during the ongoing process of registration called “Continuous Updation”.

Those who have become 18 years after January 1st 2011 or will become 18 years on January 1st, 2012 will be able to register during summary revision to be conducted between October-December 2011.

To facilitate this process, about 400 “Voters Service Centres” have been opened in Uttar Pradesh at district and sub-division (tehsil) levels.

Educational institutions have been asked to distribute Form-6 for voters registration to all the students who are taking admissions. Districts are also providing drop boxes in markets, railway stations, bus stations, malls, government/semi-government offices and educational institutions.

Districts have been asked to launch outreach programmes in the villages, urban slums and remotely connected places for voters’ registration and photo coverage.

House to house survey is being started very soon to verify the voter list and take voters’ registration form from the new voters.

Also, the Election Commission has recently launched ERMS programme in the country. This will give an opportunity for online registration of voters, viewing of the status of their application and networking of entire electoral roll under web based information and monitoring system. This will give an opportunity for a voter to search his name and details of the polling station anywhere in the state.

The Election Commission has also emphasized to launch voters’ awareness programme so that all the eligible persons are able to become voters, know about their voting rights, and are able to cast their vote during elections. New initiatives are being taken to develop partnership with civil societies, NGOs and media to educate and motivate the voters.

National Voters Day has been a big catalyst in this direction.

A new public grievance redressal system is being launched in July for the help of voters. The new voters helpline/call centre is being established in all the districts of Uttar Pradesh. Voters or any citizen, who has any grievance regarding his voter ID-card or non-inclusion of his name, correction of entries or any other complaint can be lodged on the generic number 1950 by landline or by mobile phones.

Every complaint will be registered and monitored on the website. The status can be tracked by the complainant either through website or through mobile phone. Every complaint would be redressed in the a bound manner.

In every district, a government/semi-government employee has been made booth Level Officer at every polling booth by the direction of the Election Commission. From July to September a house to house survey would be conducted by the BLOs.

The BLOs who are custodians of the voter roll at booth level would visit the houses of voters/citizens of the booth area. They will verify the details of the voter list and also distribute forms to eligible voters. The BLOs will act as a bridge between voters and voters service centre at the tehsil levels. SDMs/EROs will monitor the work of BLOs in the field and will guide them in this activity.

Various platforms of print, electronic, radio, internet and community network will be utilised for the information, education and communication of the voters.

A new initiative has been taken by the Election Commission under which photo voter’s slips will be provided to all the voters before poll. The slips will be distributed to all voters at their doorsteps. This will dispel the doubts of the voters whether their names exist in the electoral roll or not and also inform them about the details of the polling station. This will also become an additional identity proof for the voters.

Indian citizens who are residing in the foreign countries are now allowed to register as voters. In order to become a voter, such persons can apply on Form-6A (along with proof of residence and copy of his/her passport) either in person or by post to the electoral registration officer (ERO)/sub divisional magistrate of the concerned assembly constituency.

As representative of the Election Commission of India, the office of the Chief Electoral Officer of Uttar Pradesh is making concerted efforts to saturate all eligible citizens as voters, provide them with correct voters ID card and ensure that they are able to get their voter slips well in advance before poll.