Book Review: Heads You Win

Election Day Bangalore

Thursday, 23 April 2009 was declared a statutory holiday to enable people to exercise their franchise. As it turns out, Bangalore had an average polling of about 50%. This means, for every person who voted, there was one who did not.

I had voted in the Assembly Elections and was keen to vote in this as well. What constituency did I belong to? It took me some effort to figure this out. The obvious place to find this would have been the Karnataka Election Commission website. But either I didn't know what to look for, or the site was poorly organized. I couldn't figure out my constituency. However, thanks to Jaagore, I gathered that I belonged to Bangalore Central Constituency.

I knew my polling booth, it being a few metres from my apartment. I reached there at 10.30 AM in the morning. I already knew my "Part Number and Serial Number", needing this information for my EPIC (the topic for another post). I still approached the supporters of parties, sitting with the voters list and got them to give me a slip, which contained this info.

I walked to the polling booth and saw that it was virtually empty. The polling booth official verified my EPIC, and matched my name against the voters' list. If he was careful, he would have noticed that my father's name in the EPIC and the voters' list did not match. In any case, I moved on to another official, who put the magic ink on my left index finger. The third official showed me the spot in the list, which I had to sign. I then moved on to the enclosure, which housed not one, not two, but three electronic voting machine. I guess there were more than 20 candidates and one machine could fit only 10. It was not difficult to spot the person I wanted to vote for and the machine made a sound, as I punched the button.

I was out and the whole exercise had taken less than a minute.

There had been continuous advertisements in the media urging people to go out and vote. There had been several campaigns by various organizations on the same topic. Despite this, less than 50% polling. What is wrong with our system?

"My name is not in the voters list", say many. This was the topic in many newspapers the day after the polling. Isn't it your duty to check if your name is in the list? Don't you go and check when the results of your exams come out? Don't you check if your number figures in the lottery result? So why not check this?

It is going to be a while before the entire election process concludes and we see the results. Time to wait and watch