NEWS
24/04/2019 1:59 PM IST | Updated 24/04/2019 2:24 PM IST

Missing Voters: I Traveled 500 Km To My Hometown To Vote, But Couldn’t

A Bengaluru techie shares a first-person account of how she was prevented from exercising her democratic right to vote.

When I checked for my name in the voters' list, to my horror I found that my name wasn’t included.

Was your name removed from the voters list without your consent or knowledge? Share your story with us at pitches@huffpost.in or on our official Twitter or Facebook pages.

BENGALURU, Karnataka — I am a 26-year-old software developer for a Bengaluru-based company. I did not vote in the 2019 general elections. But before you jump to conclusions and give me an hour-long lecture on how I failed to exercise my fundamental right and duty, read on.

When the second phase of voting ended in Bengaluru on April 18, the voter turnout in four constituencies were well below the turnout five years ago: Bangalore rural had a voter turn-out of 59.43 percent compared to 66.45 percent in 2014, Bangalore north had a 48.19 percent turnout compared to 56.53 percent in 2014, Bangalore Central had a turnout of only 45.34 percent  compared to 55.64 percent in 2014, and Bangalore south had a turnout of 49.36 percent compared to 55.75 per cent in 2014.

Most people blame us —Bengaluru’s “techies” — for not getting involved and wandering off on a vacation because for most of us it was a long weekend. I can’t speak for everyone, but there are people who did try their level best to cast a vote, like me.

I traveled 500 km from Bangalore to my native place in north Karnataka, just to vote. Voting in my native place was scheduled on 23rd April, a Wednesday. I requested my managers to give me two days off. When they obliged, I was ecstatic as I had never missed voting before.

Amidst the jubilation, I made a mistake – I didn’t verify inclusion of my name in the voters’ list. However, I have a voter ID, and this would have been the third time I was voting. I had never faced a problem before.

Just two days before polling, my mother suggested I check the voters’ list for our family names. I checked, and everybody was eligible to cast their vote. When I checked for mine, to my horror I found that my name wasn’t included. I called up all helplines to verify and they confirmed that my voter id had been deleted and I will not be able to vote this time.

My right to vote was simply revoked because some staff at EC was in the mood for some sort of Swachh Abhiyaan.

I wish I could convey just how betrayed I felt in that moment. Without any intimation, without any proper notice, my name had been deleted! How could they do that?

When I researched further, I came to know that this was supposedly a routine exercise by the Election Commission of India. So basically, some guy at EC felt that I didn’t deserve to vote. Maybe he didn’t like my name, or my voter id number didn’t add up to a good sum that would have favored his fate according to some numerology or maybe he wasn’t just in a good mood that day. Either way, I just wasn’t eligible to vote. My right to vote was simply revoked because some staff at EC was in the mood for some sort of Swachh Abhiyaan. 

So yeah, I DID NOT VOTE. You might ask me why I didn’t try to re-register.

It all happened at the last moment and after all that, I simply didn’t feel like. I had all the right documents and was legally eligible to vote. And just like that, it was rendered null and void. So, I let it go, and I will continue to.

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If the EC can be so irresponsible and play with a person’s right to vote, why should I be even bothered about voting and making it count? Maybe I can plan a vacation just like the rest of the other techies did. At least then, the holidays I fight for from my management would be worthwhile.

And finally, just so that we all are clear, not all techies of Bengaluru are irresponsible. It’s simply just that they were made to feel that their effort was wasted. So next time you judge a techie and blame them for being indifferent, do your homework and then do the needful.

Was your name removed from the voters’ list without your consent or knowledge?

HuffPost India is gathering accounts of all those who have been disenfranchised in the 2019 General elections. Share your story with us at pitches@huffpost.in or on our official Twitter or Facebook pages.