On December 7, Telangana, the youngest formed state in India witnessed it’s first assembly elections. As polling concluded in the state with a voter turnout of 68.9 per cent, scores of voters from across the state, complained that their names were deleted from the voter list, without giving any prior information to them. Meanwhile, the Telangana’s election body chief has also admitted that voters names were found missing from the voting list at many polling booths in the state. The chief also offered an apology to the voters.
As soon as the voting started in the Telangana last week, the two main complaints began to surface–missing names from the voter list and malfunctioning of EVM– that were reported from all around the state.
Many voters took on the twitter to express their wrath, Badminton player Jwala Gutta who was among the people whose name was found missing. She tweeted saying that she has been living in the area for more than 12 years but her name is missing.
Jwala Gutta: I checked my name online 2-3 weeks ago, my mother's&my names were there, my father's&my sister's were missing. Today we went to cast vote but my name was also missing. I don't understand how's my name missing. I've been living here for 12 yrs. #TelanganaElections pic.twitter.com/mh1cRnTWu1
— ANI (@ANI) December 7, 2018
Surprised to see my name disappear from the voting list after checking online!! #whereismyvote
— Gutta Jwala (@Guttajwala) December 7, 2018
Strangely, some voters have even complained that their name appeared twice in the voting list.
— Santhosh Gampa (@gampa260) December 7, 2018
The angry and furious voters claimed that even though they have been voting at the same polling booths for the last many years, this time they could not find their name on the list, which is why they did not get a chance to cast a vote.
Today, I went to the Polling Station only to be told that my name is not there in the Voter list inspite of having a Voter ID card issued by ECI and a verification.
I returned home https://t.co/jwsZzNZ2ZZ Right to Vote has been denied.
Thanks to Election Commission. pic.twitter.com/iLT4TBOb5r
— T Krishna Prasad IPS (@tkp1080) December 7, 2018
I have travelled so long to cast my vote and faced the same issue. Checked multiple times in the list and also online. Could not find any traces of it.
I have casted my vote last time. It is very shameful that EC/Govt doesn’t maintain the data records properly. #whereismyvote https://t.co/j9gnO2oNaV
— Tarun Bharadwaj (@me_chilakamarri) December 7, 2018
According to The News Minute, some 300 residents of Kamareddy district in Telangana staged a protest on the polling day. They alleged that their names were erased from the voter list.
— CharanTeja (@CharanT16) December 7, 2018
Reacting to the Badminton player, Jwala Gutta’s tweet, Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal claimed that the same happened in Delhi as well. He tweeted, “Names of 30 lakh voters have been similarly deleted by BJP in Delhi. It seems BJP is doing it all over the country in active collusion wid Election Commission.”
Names of 30 lakh voters have been similarly deleted by BJP in Delhi. It seems BJP is doing it all over the country in active collusion wid Election Commission. https://t.co/Xiwf4UA4Ws
— Arvind Kejriwal (@ArvindKejriwal) December 7, 2018
According to The Wire, the Congress claimed that over 22 lakh names were deleted from the electoral rolls in Telangana between 2015 and 2018. The issue of missing names in the voter list was first brought up by former MLA and Congress leader Marri Shashishar Reddy, who had claimed that almost 30 lakh names had been deleted from the voting lists and he also alleged that this had been done by the Telangana Rashtra Samithi (TRS) government. He had even gone to the court to complain that electoral rolls were not complete and had severe errors.
NDTV quoted Srinivas Kodali, an internet researcher who has filed a petition seeking the names of deleted voters as saying, “The low voting is a reflection not just of those who didn’t go to vote but those who were denied a chance to vote. There is a reason to believe that there was voter profiling done and there was targeted deletion of voters though I don’t have proof for that.”
Meanwhile, there were several other reports of EVM malfunctioning in the sate as well. Many votes claimed that they had to wait for hours at the polling booths and some even that to leave without even casting their vote as the EVMs were not working in many areas.
.#polling station at Lal Bahadur school in Nimboliadda, Amberpet Constituency, has a lot of people standing due to faulty EVM and VVPAT machines.
Polling started an hour late.@NewIndianXpress #TelanganaElections2018 pic.twitter.com/EOnFVD9YcZ
— Ajay Moses (@ajaymoses_tnie) December 7, 2018
2 hours and EVM's are not even enabled in many areas of Telangana
Officers are not even responding to this situation
Senior citizens have been in line since 2 Hrs and are now returning back
ECI failed India
Save democracy @rashtrapatibhvn
— Telugu Desam (@TDPSoldier) December 7, 2018
@chief election commission.Telangana., EVM are not working in 047-Division .,Booth 333and 333 A .
— satya yadavalli (@satyavijayalaxm) December 7, 2018
An apology made by the Chief election officer
Following such complaints, the Chief election officer, Rajat Kumar soon after the polling ended in Telangana, personally offered an apology to the people who were not able to cast their vote. He said that notice should have been sent to the people whose name was omitted from the polling list. He also expressed his disappointment over the scores of complaints on the deleted/missing votes. He said that he offers his apologies for the people who missed out the opportunity to cast their votes. He further said that he would look into the matter and would also order for a revision of voters list for the 2019 Lok Sabha elections. Kumar further said, “We put out a lot of advertisements that people should ask for Form 7 and enrol. But I am sorry not everyone was able to use it,” as reported by the NDTV. According to the Live Mint, in September, Kumar agreed that over 22 lakh names were deleted from the voter’s list however, he did not offer any explanation then.
The results of Telangana assembly polls are scheduled to be declared on December 11, along with four other poll-bound states.
The Logical Indian take
At the time when the government must take actions to encourage people to vote and utilise their constitutional rights, in Telangana, there have been several reports of voters’ name missing/ deleted on the list. This probably shows that how the government does not act on its words. It is also Election Commission’s job to properly look into the EVM functioning and to also inform the people whose name have been omitted from the list. However, nothing was done and due to which scores of people lost their chance to cast their vote.