By Malathy Madathilezham
The article is a tad old but is very relevant to the day and time as well
I am an Indian citizen, true, but I haven’t had the opportunity to cast my vote till now. Just recently I completed my voters ID formality and am just sharing my experience.
Initially I and my mom submitted our forms at a nearby school on the given dates. The teachers were given the duty to help us in filling the form, etc. They were quite helpful and that experience was a pleasant one. The date allotted for us to complete the rest of the formalities was December 1st, 11 am at the Village Office at Maradu.
So, I took leave on that day. I was pretty happy cause I would be finally be able to Vote for the next elections and I had the copies and originals of all the prescribed proofs of Identity and address. We reach there well before the allotted time and there was a board saying we are to go to the community hall nearby. We go there and its utter chaos. In addition all eyes (even the women stare!) are on me and my mom, as if we are some alien creatures. May be its fact that I am wearing jeans (with a Looooong kurta though) and my mom is in her Kurti and Churidar, may be it’s that outsider feel that both of us still exude or just the attitude. But this is quite normal so we ignore that.
There are a number of counters (read benches and desks with some people with a self important air around them), but there is no order or boards indicating where we go first. So we just stand in the first queue that we stand. Thankfully it turns out be the right one and there are not many people in front of me. Thus we submit the receipt kind of thing there and are handed over a few more forms and asked to go to the next counter. We find out which one exactly is the next counter and rush there. On taking my form there, the lady says I need to give a reason why till now I did not apply for voters ID Card. So I write that down. Then she raises another objection that I need to have a ration card as proof of address and my passport wont do!! Or else I need to go to the village officer in the next counter and get a temporary residence certificate with my passport as proof. I go there and then he tells me this is not the correct ward number, or the house number and lot of other things which frankly I could not understand. Now I am really frustrated and angry and look at my mom. She knows I am about to blow my top. Then she asks if on the basis of her residence proof he could issue me one. Fortunately for him, he says he can do that. He asks me to make some changes here and there. And Voila! He issues me a temp residence proof. Then back to the same counter where the queue has grown long by now. She fills up some forms and sends me to the next counter.
The man at the next counter is kind enough not to ask too many questions or bring more objections. He signs the forms and sends me forward. The last counter was where the photos were being taken for the Voters ID Card. Now I think the old man in front of me liked the young photographer as he did not seem to keen on getting up from the seat. So some questions and answers later, finally I got my photo taken (I guess my photo will show the level of my frustration!). And thus ended the ordeal of finishing the formality to get my Voters ID.
What I cannot understand is, if the website of the election commission states some mandatory ID proofs are required and that Passport, Driving License, Statement of your Bank account, Ration card; any of these can be taken as proof of residence, then why this insistence of taking only the ration card as proof of ID. Why make life difficult for people like me who may not be fortunate enough to have one. You cannot question the fact that I am an Indian, I have an Indian Passport, and my driving license proves that I am above 18 years old. Instead of making procedures like these simple and uncomplicated why the tendency to make the experience difficult, tedious and frustrating?