The election dynamics in India works in a very strange way. Do you know a one percent swing of the electorate towards a particular political party could earn them up to ten seats? Here is another down to earth example: in the recent Assembly election in Tamil Nadu, India, the AIADMK party polled 39 % of the total votes and the DMK just 26%. A difference of 13 % vote resulted in a stock of 127 seats between the two giants?
So, every vote counts. The election commission says that only 75% of the electorate cast their votes. Wouldn’t that absentee 25% mean a swing of over a hundred seats?
The Commission prepares a list called “Voters list” for every constituency. This is considered a very sacred document like it is equivalent to the Holy Bible ! If your name is not in the list, you are a nobody. To be more blunt, you are not an Indian at all ! So sacrosanct the darned list is.
How accurate the voters list is? Very inaccurate. Dead persons’ names, names of people who have changed their residence, of people who have gone on transfer to another constituency, appear there. When you leave your rented house, you think in terms of changing your gas connection electricity connection, ration card, telephone connection and so many other things but no one ever thinks of informing the election commission about the change of address. So, where is the accuracy of this so called sacred list? And changes take place routinely almost daily.
Less than 50% of the Indian population have permanent houses/addresses in the land. The remaining are floating population who may change residence every year or after a couple of years. If you are not physically present in a particular house, the election commission will ruthlessly remove your name from the list for the next election as if you are dead. You are expected to get yourself enrolled, as it were, in your new location. You need all the time in the world to do this, which may include submitting an application form along with your photograph, proof of residence and so on. You get so fed up running after the various steps that you feel it would be better to remain a vote less character in your own country.
With so many imperfections in our electoral list, we boast to the world that we are the greatest democracy in the world and we had carried out a monumental election so successfully.
On a casual exchange of notes with an Election official, he stressed that the Commission needs to know how many voters are available in a constituency, hence a list is a must. Great. “Including dead persons and transferred persons?” I remarked for which the gentleman had no rejoinder.
It is sad that one thinks and talks in ancient ways in a modern computer world.
I would personally recommend that we go in for an all purpose electronic smart card which may contain all your personal information other than your residential address and which records details of your participation in various elections and you should be permitted to vote from any place in India and in any constituency. [As of now, if you happen to be on outstation duty on the election day, you lose your right of franchise. Why?]
The central government said in 2010 that they are preparing an unique identity card for every individual. Where is it? Will it take twenty years to complete and provide it to every individual?
In a democracy, it is vital that every adult votes in every election. Abstaining from voting, should be considered a democratic sin. 100% voting is ideal but we need to have some slip margin, which should not be more than 2 %. Accordingly, 98% participation should be the minimum. We should work towards this figure. Only then we could claim that the elected candidates have the popular support.