Book Review: Heads You Win

The Modern Epic - Part II

A few days back I had written about the challenges of getting EPIC - the voter id card.

Subsequently, Election Commission allowed users to vote even without this card, so long as voters could produce an alternate card - like Drivers License, PAN card, Passport, etc.

On Saturday, 10th May, we had the Assembly Elections in Bangalore. While I'd my EPIC, my wife took her PAN card. Armed with these, we went to our polling both, a Government Primary School, walking distance from my apartment. It was 9 AM.

Various parties had set up their "booths" close to the polling booth. Here, they identified the "Section/Part" in the electoral roll, where the voter's name was located, noted it in a sheet. This sheet had to be given in the polling booth (so that there was no crowd in the polling booth to locate your name)!

The fun part started here. I had the EPIC. The challenge was to find my name in the list. All the available lists with the party workers were in Kannada, which I can't read. They finally located the list for our apartment. We located my name - it was misspelt. My father's name was incorrect and so was my House Number. To top it all, the Voter Id column was empty. I had the id, but no corresponding entry in the list! There was no other name, which matched my details elsewhere, so I had to make do with this.

My wife's was no better. The party workers said that we should give a shot with the partially matched entries and state that our application for correction of these details had not been incorporated.

There was no rush in the polling booth corresponding to the "Part Number" we belonged to. We went with some trepidation. To our surprise, we found the Election Commission official referring to the electoral roll printed in English! To our good fortune, she seemed happy with the partial match (and did not check the address or other details). She insisted on seeing my wife's PAN card, but the bottom line was both of us voted - for both - the first time with Electronic Voting Machine.

I read in the newspaper next day about how thousands of people had these discrepancies in the voter list and could not vote. In my case, the EPIC had one detail but not the electoral roll. Looking back, I had got the EPIC three years back. I did remember the person had asked and obtained the correct spelling for my name as well as other details before he took my photo and printed the card. I now realise that this information (or correction) had never got incorporated back in the electoral roll.

The EC website does not allow search solely by the EPIC Number. If so, I would at least have seen if my entry still figured in the EC list!