Low voter turnout: Hyderabad’s shame!

Low voter turnout: Hyderabad’s shame!

Low voter turnout: Hyderabad’s shame! After all the hype about the elections and the target of increasing voting percentage to 75 in the city, the promising IT hub regrettably polled only 53.24 per cent votes.

EC and voters: Both are responsible

After all the hype about the elections and the target of increasing voting percentage to 75 in the city, the promising IT hub regrettably polled only 53.24 per cent votes. The figure came as a blow to the Election Commission as the voter turnout in the city turned out to be less than that of 2009 polls, despite all its efforts to improve the count. While the EC flaunted about providing facilities like chairs, tents, water etc in the polling booths; it apparently missed out on the vital components of the elections: the voters themselves.

“The major flaw lies in the data collected by the EC; the people employed for data collection are hardly educated, resulting in poor quality of the data. The EC immortalised some by including the names of some who already died, while it apparently considers some thousands of fully fit voters non-existing. There were many instances where some names appeared twice in the voters list,” said a local leader.

Numerous instances were reported where many voters did not find their names in the list despite of possessing a voter ID. In Yakutpura and Chandrayangutta, people came to the polling centres with their ration cards to exercise their right, but their names did not appear in the voter list.

Though the EC released a toll free number to enable people to know their polling booths via SMS, most people were unaware of this facility and a few responsible citizens never got a reply from the EC. The names of family members, living in the same residence, appeared in different polling stations which possibly hampered voters’ enthusiasm.

While the voter slips were distributed by the political parties every year, this time the Central Election Commission, however, decided to employ its own people to distribute the voter slips. These officials who were deployed in different localities (alien to them) failed miserably in distributing these slips. Adding to the EC’s misery, the Resident Welfare Association’s hardly cooperated with the officials in the process of distribution. Only about 60 per cent voters received voter slips depriving the other significant majority of their right.

Though new voters were enrolled, their names were missing in the voters list.

“I did a survey in my constituency and found that Malakpet votes were in Amberpet and Amberpet votes were in Musheerabad. I wrote to the EC to correct this, sadly nothing was done,” lamented Kishan Reddy, BJP Telangana president.

Old City which has always been riddled with low voter turnout took off to a slow start on Wednesday. One of the major reasons that was cited for this anomaly was that this year the Photo Voter Slips (PVS) were not handed over to the polling agents and political parties. It was only the Booth Level Officers (BLOs) who were in possession of the slips and the voters alleged that they did a tardy job of supplying the voter slips. Without these slips, even the people found it impossible to find out where their polling station was located. A senior official from the District Election Officer’s (DEO) office said that if the officials handed over the responsibility of the PVS to the political parties they would have actually done a better job, as the agents are well-acquainted with the vicinity rather than the officials.

In places like Barkas, Chandrayangutta, Yakutpura and Talabkatta, all the polling stations were located in extremely narrow by-lanes. Most of them did not possess the basic minimum facilities that were mentioned. In places like Talabkatta where there was no tent, people had to stand under the trees for some shade.

As per the guidelines issued in the rule book for presiding officers, all the preparations for the voters should have been completed by 6.55am, including the mock poll. But in many areas the mock polls were delayed by half an hour and the voting only began at 7.30am. Apart from the mock polls, even the EVMs failed to function in 11 stations. They were replaced within 20 minutes but the polling officers had to face the wrath of the frustrated voters.

While the EC accused the people for the lack of their enthusiasm, it is high time that the commission checked its own system.

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