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Friday, March 13, 2009

Please V.O.T.E. : The genesis of non-participation of service voters and their families in elections, the reasons thereof and the solution !

I’ll try to be as uncomplicated as possible.

Why is it that service voters and their families are not able to effectively be a part of the most important process of democracy – the elections. The answer, in my humble opinion, is lack of awareness coupled with confusing signals from authorities.

Apart from postal ballot which is a cumbersome process marred by pitfalls galore, a service voter (technically defined as a ‘voter having service qualification’ under Sec 20(8) of the Representation of People Act, 1950) has two options :

(a) To vote at the native place, that is, the place of original residence without taking military service into account, or

(b) To get enrolled and vote at the place of posting

Quite simple this is.

The problem however is that election officials are not carrying out house to house enumeration of cantonments and military areas as directed by the Election Commission of India (ECI). Every cantonment forms a part of an electoral area and the officials of all such constituencies are duty bound to carry out house to house surveys in all cantonments but they are not doing so in most military areas effectively ensuring that individuals posted in such areas are virtually rendered stateless. In fact, in a communication dated 20 March 1995, the ECI had very categorically ordained that service personnel could register themselves as voters at the place of posting at the time of house to house survey. Cool, but then as I said, the problem is that house to house surveys are just not being carried out in cantonments as if these areas do not form a part of our country.

The Solution

Again very simple. You still have time to get yourself registered. If one wants to register himself or herself at the place of posting alongwith family members and there is no house to house survey, one can just fill up FORM 6 of the Registration of Elector Rules, 1960 and submit the same to the Electoral Registration Officer of the concerned constituency. The said Form 6 and the Rules can be perused and downloaded by clicking here.

Another problem is the lack of education and conflicting signals on the issue. As always, I think we are at the forefront of the old age adage ‘aa bael mujhe maar’. Though now in the military we have woken up and woken up well, sample this from SAO 16/S/1972 which is still in force and which is not only illegal and unconstitutional but also in direct contravention of a Parliamentary Act :

“16. Service Voters are authorized to vote only by postal ballot. They cannot vote in any other manner i.e. they cannot vote in person, even if they happen to be on leave or otherwise at the place of place of poll on the day of election.”

So there you have it. By the way, the Hon’ble Supreme Court in Wopansao Vs NL Odyuo and others reported as AIR 1971 SC 3123 had laid down the following :

“ the Statutory fiction confers the right to be registered as electors at their home town or village but the fiction cannot take away the right of the person possessing service qualifications to get themselves registered at a constituency in which they are ordinarily residing, though such places happens to be their place of service.”

So vote and make our friend IndianAce happy too.


Anonymous said...

The instructions to the effect that all service pers and their families get themselves registered at the place of posting have been issued from AHQ, but i find that there is a lethargy in the system to ensure the same. Astonishing indeed!!!
Really wonder what it will take to awaken us.

Anonymous said...

I am indeed educated.May I request the respective stn cdrs to raise the issue with local civil auth for registration of service voters.

Anonymous said...

A very informative article.But this time, adequate policy letters have already been circulated by all three services so that defence personnel can exercise their right to vote. However, i have few questions..
Now one may answer this saying "if everybody does think the same way, what will happen to democracy"..! For all those who think this way, pl consider the fact that today's democracy in india is way out of the hands of rational, educated voters. Politicians only count on group votes like muslim community votes, backward/ scheduled category votes, some religious community votes, govt servant votes, economically poor citizen's votes by giving them rice or food or cash or false promises etc., These votes form the major junk and rest is managed at the booth by rigging votes of absentee voters.
Let's assume hypothetically all faujis in their place of posting awaken their minds and cast their vote. Such votes in any constituency will not be more than 2000 votes on an average. This is inclusive of all faujis and their families and civilian-educated rational voters of a particular constituency.
But in most of the elections held till now in india, winning candidate is always ahead of his second by more than 4000 votes. Its only one odd elction where margin is less than this. Our smart politicians are very well aware of this and that is the reason why they never come to a big MNC or a millitary estb or any educated community for their campaign.
secondly I personally believe that all politicians are same.. Out of the presently existing political parties in our country, can anyone tell me Which political party can handle the social issues like terrorism, reservations,communal rites etc., the way they are suppose to be ideally handled?Things are going to be same No matter any party comes to power(mostly a hung govt is expected) .. ther will not be a great change in our country. When i say things are going to be same, i mean both good things as well as wrong things.
If i consider above issues, do i really need to waste time registering as a voter, get into bullshit of paper work and finally stand in a big que on the day of voting when i have better things to do in life?
Am a young officer and WITHIN MY LIMITED KNOWLEDGE, these are my views about our democracy and elctions. Can the intellectuals and experts of this blog contradict my viws? awaiting response...

Anonymous said...

Anonymous @ March 13, 2009 8:42 PM

YES, your VOTE counts!!! If everyone were to desist from casting his vote, it would indeed make the unscrupulous politico's work easy. Also it is the very attitudes such as these in 'educated' fauji's that is working to the AF's detriment. That is why our issues remain largely within the four walls of our drawing rooms.

VitalStatistix said...

Dear Maj Navdeep,
I am a retired Officer. I have found that the site www.jagore.com is doing a wonderful job. It is sponsored by a corporate house as a public service The site dispels many myths. For eg, not many know that a Voter ID card is not a must for voting. A passport, or for that matter, a Service I Card is perfectly acceptable proof of identity. The site also tells us that anyone who has lived in the same city for the past 6 months can vote.
When I registered, the site asked me to fill up a form with all the basic details (address, date of birth etc) and immediately generated a PDF form for registration. The site also gives the address of the electoral officer where you can submit the form. All you have to do is to take a printout of the form, sigh it, and submit it to the address given. I am sure that enrollment using this site is possible for most of us, and a single person / office in each unit can be designated to go and submit the forms centrally, instead of individually going to the electoral office.
Those who have voted earlier in some other city or constituency, have to fill in by hand that he / she has earlier voted in so and so place, and the name may please be deleted from that electoral roll.
Poof ! simple as that, even Alladin's genie can't do a better job. Can you think of an easier way to register?

Just thought I'd pass on the good deed done to me my the site, and hope that many more of us can vote.
I'm voting this year - one small step to ensure that the servicemen and ex-servicemen are a force to reckon with - with their votes. Jai www.jagore.com
and Jai Hind

Anonymous said...

@ Anonymous-8:42PM-DOES MY ONE VOTE COUNTS!!
YES Your one vote counts. Your one VOTE is a Nation builder. Your one vote elects a law maker who makes a law to build the nation.We want a change and "YOU" have the power to bring the change. Forget about Party Politics. Think differently. GO AND VOTE FOR AN HONEST UNCORRUPTABLE CANDIATE. Forget about Party-Vote arithmatics. All of us think alike, this very thinking can upset all the arithmatics. ANONYMOUS think positive- sheer numbers can upset the apple-carts of dynasty builders and suppliers of sponsored future Prime Ministers Go and vote, If you vote you will be surprised to see the results & the change. GET YOUR VOTE MADE WHERE EVER YOU ARE IT IS NEVER LATE. DONT WAIT FOR YOUR BOSS TO TAKE YOU TO VOTE REGISTERATION OFFICE-YOU TAKE YOUR BOSS ALONG WITH YOU

TO VOTE is your Right. Navdeep has shown the way. you actions are witin the Armed Forces Rules and Constitution of the Country. I have my vote at the local station and will vote for accountability

VitalStatistix said...

One more thing.... each one of us must be convinced that each vote counts. It is just like that in war and peace. Each bullet that finds its aim, counts towards the ultimate goal. Now, we must all arm ourselves with this bullet of one vote, and work towards becoming responsible citizens. It is quite sad to see some of the comments here reflecting despondency and loss of faith, even in oneself. It is up to us as officers, to motivate, educate and enable all those we command to become responsible citizens just as much as it is our responsibility to make them good soldiers. I still remember the wonderful poster at the Army Training Team at NDA which read "Victory is still measured by foot" . Each one of us must remember that we have to keep marching, for only then, in the long run, can we make THAT crucial difference in the running of this wonderful country.
And of course, to answer the question of Anonymous @ 8:52 PM..... do you see how much ONE man, with his blog, and with a dedicated effort, is making a difference to so many of us here? Do I need to specify that there is just ONE man running this blog, out of a desire for doing good to others? Remember , each vote counts and each one of us must vote.
Point to note, is that the Govt gives us that one day of voting as a non-working day - the main reason is to VOTE. So what if you have to stand in a line? And like I have said in my earlier post... there is hardly any paperwork, just log on to www.jagore.com. I am really sorry if I sound like I am advertising for this site, but seeing the misconceptions people may have about the paperwork required to vote sort of prompts me to ask each one of us to try out that site. My wife and I have both registered on the site, generated our voter forms and submitted them last month !! if there is any other site doing this kind of job, I will gladly inform people about this one too !!

Keep up the good work, Maj Navdeep!!
Jai HO !!

Anonymous said...

thanks for the info. me and my colleagues have initiated the process today after reading the entry. i will be exercising my right as a citizen after 14 years of my service.

Anonymous said...

The anno comm fm yg mn is abso true.
Every one should therefore ex thei men faculties to pursue/explore variou other courses of active actions/options to derive ur rightful parity/due p&a.
Of course do ex ur rt to vote with least effort and dont waste so much of time.This course of ac sd be pur,but it alone cannot lead yu to the goal.
There is a saying that power grows with str,takat,...DO use/practice that...also;afterall u r kings/presidents comm/app auth with so much of ...
policewalas,MPs,MLAs,Babus do employ diverse app&meth to get what ty want; WHY NOT YOU ?

Anonymous said...

In Civil set up a person comes to your house checks the no of persons residing and your name is there,in the voter list. whereas I am asked to collect and fill up a form and then despatch it. Particulars like assembly area and parliamentary constituency have changed due to recent re-organising. Why this discrimination? Learned souls! any way out? I have tried Jagore. again some form. The map is not helping me know my constituency. The postal ballot application asks my serial no in electoral roll. How many of even keen and educated Indians know that?
why can't it be done at Stn level and fwd to district auth or civ rep comes to our home/ units and takes away our particulars

Anonymous said...

don't you think finding and then going to electoral officer's office somewhere in the district collector's office during office hours, and then filling up the form is something we would like to sham off. why can,t our hqrs do something collectively. Simple it appears theoretically but on ground ??? Even awakening sites on net give you these forms only which only you have to despatch. Please have my name in the list and you see me participating in polls religiously

Ram Ithikkat said...

@Anonymous at March 13, 2009 8:42 PM:

Dear YO,

your vote definitely counts.

In most Mil Cantonments, the total population (service pers and their families) exceeds 20,000. Most of our people are fairly aware, almost all of them believe in duty, honour and country. They are literate, fairly informed and discerning. They have strong regional and religious affiliations WITH ONE CRITICAL DIFFERENCE, they believe that merit matters over other such bias.

Imagine if even a substantial majority vote for a clean candidate.


Anonymous said...

Do vote .Do register yourself with existing proc.
do keep voicing and expressing the need to review proc for better and effective methods to enable every serving soldier to vote at his place of postig or on lve
These forums can con and lead to the ultimate.
the best to ser &ret soldier. JAI HIND.

I D Sharma said...

Sir, Every adult should register as a voter and should vote.In India Majority of vote counts and is respected. If we have to make a difference, we have to vote an bloc from one constituency. Who so ever is most favorable to us "the Armed Forces"The day when we shall vote an bloc , we shall be able to make or break any candidate Since general public still sympathetic and listnes to us. That day will give us real power and Every polititian Bwill come to us. "DONOT WASTE YOUR VOTE, VOTE AN BLOC". Jai Hind. I D