Here is an interesting conversation between Ramu and Shamu. Shamu is apathetic towards politics and Ramu is actively involved in spreading awareness related to it. In the below chat, Ramu tries to answer some of the basic and most important queries related to elections put forth by Shamu.
Shamu: Hi Ramu, how are you?
Ramu: Hi Shamu, I'm fine. How are you?
Shamu: I'm fine. So what's up?
Ramu: Nothing much. Just looking up some information related to the 2009 elections.
Shamu: 2009 elections??? You spend a lot of time in these activities. I often feel you are wasting your time with this. How does it matter who comes to power? After all, every politician is corrupt and it is a known fact. So why vote?
Ramu: While I wouldn't say that every politician is corrupt, I'd definitely agree with you that most of them are corrupt. But at the same time it is also true that there are politicians who even though may be corrupt are also interested in the development of the country. I feel when we vote we should know the candidates who are contesting in our constituency and then vote for one whom we know is likely to be interested in the development of the state rather than just personal benefit. For ex. take the case of Arun Gawli - a notorious gangster turned politician. We should certainly not allow people like this to come to power.
Shamu: Hmm ... I think what you say makes some sense. But let us say all of us vote and someone who is not corrupt / less corrupt comes to power. What guarantee is there that he will eventually not become as corrupt as others?
Ramu: Yes I agree, that is quite possible. But we must understand that when politicians become accountable and anwerable, they will not the bend the law at their whims and fancies. Everyone knows the only way for things to improve is by bringing an entire change in the system. And active participation of the people in politics and the process of choosing their leaders is the first major step towards it. Most of the middle and richer sections of the society have become indifferent towards politics. And most of the lower class people easily sell their vote for liquor / money. This results in the politicians who have more money / muscle power coming to power rather than those who are interested in people welfare. By more knowledgeable people getting involved in politics and administration of the country, not only will ensure better leaders to come to power but also keep them aware that they are accountable and answerable to the people.
Shamu: I think I agree with what you say. Even I feel that the least I should do is know who all are contesting from my constituency and vote for the candidate/party which I believe is the best. But I am not sure if I am already registered? How do I know?
Ramu: If a resident of Andhra Pradesh, you can visit http://ceo.ap.gov.in/ to check whether your name is present in the voters list. If you are not a resident of AP or you are resident of AP but applied for registration after Nov 2008, then you can check the latest electoral rolls at your local Electoral Registration Officer (ERO) location or at your polling booth location.
Shamu: Actually, I am very sure that I am not yet registered as a voter. How can I register myself as a voter?
Ramu: You can get registered in two ways.
Go to the www.ceoandhra.nic.in website of the Chief Electoral Andhra Pradesh. Click on the ‘e-registration’ menu item on the right-hand side of the top menu bar (direct link http://ceo.ap.gov.in/eregistration/default.asp). Just fill out the details, attach a softcopy of your photograph and submit it online. You will get an acknowledgement and your name should appear in the next version of the voter rolls.
2. Manual submission of the forms
i. Through Post Offices: You can visit any Post Office (especially in the Greater Hyderabad region) fill out a blank Form 6, attach two passport size photos and submit it at the same desk. That’s all! The post man will deliver the Voter ID card to your home by speed post, in about four weeks time. Your name and particulars will also be included in the latest version of the Election Commission’s voter rolls. This voter registration facility through Post Offices is a permanent service provided to all citizens. (at least definitely residents of AP).
ii. Nearest Municipal Corporation Office or Tehsildar’s /MRO’s Office: In every such office, there is a separate desk for voter enrolment. Complete a blank Form 6 and attach two photos of yourself. To greatly increase your chances of becoming registered as a voter, also attach a photocopy each of your identity proof and place of residence (driver’s license, passport, PAN Card, telephone bill, electricity bill etc).
Some other things which might interest you are:
i. Apart from Form 6 (for New voters) you also have Form 7 (for objection or seeking deletion of name in electoral roll in case of faulty inclusions of people who do not exist / deceased family members), Form 8 (for corrections in voters details) and Form 8A (for change of address within the SAME Assembly Constituency).
ii. These forms can be automatically generated at http://www.jaagore.com by getting yourself registered
and filling your details. I'd highly recommend that you use the facility provided by jaagore.com as they also track the status of your application and inform you if your name gets enrolled. Alternatively you can download these forms at http://voteindia.in/voteinfo.php and fill them manually.
iii. Also I got to know through someone working for Lok Satta that Post Office seems to be the most effective way for getting registered. The reason being each postman gets paid some amount for every registration (or perhaps house verification).
iv. Lastly, you can submit your forms through multiple sources (but they should all contain the same details). For ex. you can register via e-registration, then at the same time fill the form manually and submit it at the post office as well as MRO office. This way you can increase your chances of getting yourself registered.
Shamu: Ok. But isn't it late already? I mean if I register now will I be eligible for the 2009 elections?
Ramu: Yes, you will be eligible. Registration stops normally 10 days before the final date of accepting candidate nominations. But the sooner you can get it done the better. Because there might be errors which you might want to get corrected. Or there might not be enough time to process the application in the last minute.
Shamu: Hey, by the way in the previous elections I have observed that people without voter id cards were able to vote and some even though they had voter id card couldn't vote. How could this be possible?
Ramu: That is because what is more important than having a voter id card is having your name in the voters list. Then you can just show some proof for the place you are residing in and caste your vote.
Shamu: Do I need to register separately for general, state and local elections?
Ramu: The General / Union elections (also called Lok Sabha elections) and the State Elections (also called Vidhan Sabha Elections) are conducted by Election Commission of India (ECI) while the Local Body elections (elections to your Municipal Corporation / Panchayats) are conducted by the State Election Commissions.
The electoral rolls for general and state elections are prepared by ECIwhere as the electoral rolls for local elections is prepared by State Election Commission. In most states, you DO NOT need to register separately for local elections; the State Election Commission uses the same electoral rolls prepared under the guidance of ECI.
However, some states such as Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh and Kerala require citizens to register separately for the local body elections. To check specific rules for your city, please visit the website of your State Election Commission.
Shamu: When does the address verification take place? Who does it? What if I am not present at home during address verification?
Ramu: Normally, address verification takes place within two weeks of submission of voter registration form. Address verification is done by your Booth Level Officer (BLO). BLO's are appointed by the Electoral Registration Officer (ERO) for each polling booth within a assembly constituency (AC).
It is not important for you to be present in person at your home during address verification as long as somebody else is available at your house who can confirm the fact that you stay at that address. In case there is nobody present at your address, the Boot Level Officer (BLO), who is the incharge of address verification, may try to check the validity of your residence at the address with your neighbours and approve.
If you feel there is a problem with address verification, it is always useful to track your application status with your Electoral Registration Officer (ERO).
Shamu: What happens if someone else has cast the vote in my name?
Ramu: If the first Polling Officer tells you on arrival inside the polling station that your vote has already been cast, bring this to the attention of the Presiding Officer immediately. The law allows you to cast a Tendered Vote.
A Tendered Ballot Paper, as per Rule 49P of the Conduct of Elections Rules, will be given to you and you will be required to sign your name on the list of tendered votes. A tendered ballot paper is the same as the ballot paper displayed on the balloting unit, except that it shall be endorsed on the back, with the words, "Tendered Ballot Paper" either stamped by the Returning officer or written by the Presiding Officer at the time of issuing it.
Shamu: Somewhere in our discussion you have mentioned about Lok Satta. What is it?
Ramu: Lok Satta is an organization working for political and administrative reforms in India. Recently (in 2006) it got converted into a political party understanding that to bring about considerable reforms in the administration, it has to be a part of it. I have personally been involved in the party campaigning during the previous bye-elections and I can confidently say that they are completely against distributing money or liquor to buy votes. Also the people with whom I interacted were great. For more info you can subscribe to their blog at http://news.loksatta.org and also join the official Lok Satta mailing list at http://lists.loksatta.org/mailman/listinfo/members_lists.loksatta.org .
Shamu: Thanks dude for the information. That was really helpful. Anything else you want to tell me before I go and get myself registered?
Ramu: Yeah. First DO NOT DELAY. Go immediately and submit your form. Also a more detailed FAQ reg. voting and elections is available at http://www.jaagore.com/faq.html. You might want to refer it for further info . Let us hope for a better India and cleaner politics :) !