Currently revision of electoral rolls in West Bengal is going on.
The submission of forms for filing of claims and objections is taking place from October 15, 2014 to November 10, 2014.
The disposal by the Election Commission of the claims and objections filed would be over by November 20, 2014.
final publication of electoral rolls with January 1, 2015 (01.01.2015)
as the qualifying date would take place on January 5, 2015.
India is a parliamentary democracy. Regular elections are the means by which any parliamentary democracy works. From the highest policy-making body to the local administrative bodies, elections take place for all government bodies to determine the people’s representatives who would rule the country.
Elections for most representational bodies take place every five years – Lok Sabha, state assembly, corporation, municipality, panchayat – except unforeseen circumstances, like the dissolution of a government before the term ends, or when an elected representative dies or resigns.
Elections are conducted according to provisions in the Constitution of India, supplemented by laws made by Parliament. The major laws are the Representation of the People Act, 1950, which mainly deals with the preparation and revision of electoral rolls, and the Representation of the People Act, 1951, which deals with all aspects of conduct of elections and post election disputes.
The Election Commission
The body which conducts these huge electoral exercises, at all levels, is an autonomous body called Election Commission of India (ECI). It is headed by a chief election commissioner (CEC) and two other election commissioners (EC). Under this organisation, in every state and union territory, there is a State Election Commission (SEC), which is headed by a Chief Electoral Officer (CEO).
One of the most important duties of ECI is registration of voters. Through the registration, electoral rolls are created for every constituency, the geographical area from which a candidate is elected. The area of a constituency depends on the population of the area. For general elections (Lok Sabha elections) it is parliamentary constituency (PC), and for state elections, it is assembly constituency (AC).
What is EPIC?
Registration of voters enables the Election Commission to create electoral rolls for each constituency. It is a huge and time-consuming process, considering the millions of voters or electors.
To improve the accuracy of the electoral rolls and prevent fraud, ECI has mandated the creation of photo-identity cards, called electors’ photo-identity card (EPIC), commonly called voters’ identity cards. This has not only become compulsory for any person wanting to vote in any election, but is also legally recognised as a general identity for anyone proclaiming to be a citizen of India.
Registration of Voters
For voting, India follows the system of universal adult suffrage. That means, according to ECI, ‘any citizen over the age of 18 can vote in an election (before 1989 the age limit was 21). The right to vote is irrespective of caste, creed, religion or gender. Those who are deemed unsound of mind, and people convicted of certain criminal offences are not allowed to vote.’
Only those whose names are on the electoral roll are allowed to vote.
The electoral roll is normally revised every year to…
add those who have turned 18 on the 1st of January of that year.
add those who have moved into a constituency.
remove those who have moved out of a constituency.
remove those who have died.
If a person is eligible to vote yet the name is not on the electoral roll, he/she can apply to the Electoral Registration Officer (ERO) of the constituency, who will update the register.
The operation of registering names for inclusion in electoral rolls is an intensive process:
Official enumerators of the Election Commission conduct a house-to-house operation to collect information about electors (names, address, gender, age, etc.).
These intensive revisions are done every five years.
In between, summary revisions are done to include the names of those who have been left out for some reason.
To be a part of these summary revisions, during the specified periods, those who are not on the roll should submit their details through Form 6, available at the local office of the Election Commission.
Those who have shifted residence to a new constituency should also submit their details through Form 6. They also need not delete their names from the electoral roll of their earlier constituency.
This is done by the Election Commission, after submission of the request to the local Commission office.
If a person has died, ideally, a family member should inform the local office of the Election Commission that the name has to be deleted.
During the five-yearly revision of electoral rolls, a draft roll is prepared after the house-to-house enumeration and published at every polling booth location for inviting claims and objections, for which fifteen types of forms are available.
The types of voter registration forms are given below, along with the website links where you can download them from:
Similarly, during the yearly summary revisions of electoral rolls, the existing electoral rolls are published at each polling booth, and claims and objections invited to include, delete, modify or transpose details.
After due enquiry by the Commission, all the claims and objections are decided and a supplementary electoral roll is prepared and published.
Even after the final publication of electoral rolls, the process of continuous updating of electoral rolls goes on and citizens are free to file any application for the addition, deletion, modification and transposition with the Electoral Registration Officer.
As per the law, to enable the Electoral Registration Officer to take action on your application, you must apply at least ten days before the last date of filing of nominations by candidates standing for election, as has been notified by the Election Commission. This is required as the ERO has to mandatorily invite objections by giving a seven-day notice before including your name in the roll.
If one applies later than ten clear days before the last date for nominations, the name may not be included for the purposes of that particular election.
The updating of the Electoral Roll only stops during an election campaign, after the nominations for candidates have closed.
Programmes and rewards organised by the Election Commission
Participation of voters in the electoral processes is integral to the successful running of any democracy and the very basis of wholesome democratic elections. Initiatives are constantly taken by the SECs as well as by ECI to educate voters on their rights. For this, Systematic Voters’ Education and Electoral Participation (SVEEP) programmes are held.
For example, as an awareness for the 2014 general elections, last year in West Bengal, kite-flying festivals were held in many districts and in Kolkata on the day of Vishwakarma Puja on September 17, when kite flying competitions are traditionally held in the state. Messages from ECI and the logo of ECI were prominently displayed on the kites. The Election Commission last year also gave the Nirvachak Sahayata Samman Awards to the two best Durga Puja organising committees in some selected districts, to popularise the ideas of electoral participation, democracy and registration.
To highlight the rights of voters and encourage people to utilise their voting rights, January 25 is celebrated every year as National Voters’ Day.
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