Apr 30, 2009

Voting in the Indian Elections 2009

Much has been written about the Indian Elections 2009 and turns out that the voting turnout in 2009 has been higher than the previous ones in 2004. More significantly the urban, educated class which has hitherto been apathetic has turned out in significant numbers to vote. I had written about this before the elections started and the hunch turned out to be true. What caused this change?
  • New generation parties like Loksatta have emerged on the political scene - these seek to mirror the aspirations of the first time voters seeking change, and have enhanced the voter turnout.
  • Movements such as Letsvote.in have added to this momentum, the turnout at the Hyderabad walk was large and showed the enthu among the IT crowd.
  • Not to mention Jaagore which caused quite a stir in mobilising voter registrations. I was impressed with their CRM like approach to voter databases; however THE missing part was ensuring voters confirmed their names in the electoral rolls - this alone could have saved a few lakh votes, given the scale of their campaign targeting One Billion Votes.
After the election day, I checked with my friends on their voting experience - many confirmed that they indeed voted and proudly showed their index fingers embossed with the indelible voter ink (apparently in Maharashtra they smeared the middle finger, leading to a comic sight with voters showing it up). However a fairly large number also reported that their names were missing from the electoral rolls. All these cases could have been avoided if only the prospective voters had leveraged one of the many web resources available:
  • http://www.pollingbooth.in/ - check your name in the rolls 3-4 weeks before the election data, if it is missing, immediately raise a request to the election office in your jurisdiction. In my case, I found my name but failed to notice the change in the polling booth; so on the election day, had to rush to the new booth i was assigned, some 4 kms away from my home.
  • http://www.ceo.ap.gov.in/ - same as above, or the local equivalent
  • http://www.ceoandhra.nic.in/Final_erolls_2009_II.html - same as above
  • http://myneta.info/ - a wonderful tool comparing the profiles of the candidates in your constituency. This link showed me the picture for Secunderabad before i voted.
Hopefully the next election (which one fears, may not be too far away with the expected hung mandates) will see these trends intensify and the lessons learnt implemented. Technology would then have really helped influence change in the polity!

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