Karnataka: Illiterate voters fear threat of being spied upon

Illiterate voters play a decisive role in the victory or defeat of candidates.
KALABURAGI: With money power playing a big role in the elections to the Council from local bodies and candidates determined to ensure that they get good returns on their investments, are voters, especially illiterate ones, facing the threat of being spied upon by representatives of candidates at polling booths?
The answer is yes if the number of petitions district electoral officers are receiving from voters- who claim to be illiterate- seeking the help of literate persons to cast their votes is any indication. According to Raichur Deputy Commissioner Sashikanth Senthil, his office has been getting a large number of petitions from voters stating that they need the help of their relatives who are literate to cast their votes.
In most of the 25 constituencies going to polls on December 27 in the Hyderabad-Karnataka region, illiterate voters play a decisive role in the victory or defeat of candidates. Although the model conduct of poll is applicable to the present one as well, the election to the Council is different from the previous ones. For the first time, the party symbols of candidates who are in the fray have been done away with and instead, the photos of candidates with their names would be printed in the ballot papers.
The voters have to write ‘1’ before the name of the candidate in the ballot paper to indicate the preference of the candidate they vote for. Knowing well that there are a large number of candidates who are illiterate, the Election Commission has allowed such illiterate voters to take the help of one of their relatives to exercise their franchise.
However, political observers feel that the provision of allowing illiterate candidates take the help of their relatives to cast their vote would take away their right to secrecy. “Political parties are adopting different means to lure voters, such as distributing money or expensive gifts. But there is no guarantee that the person who receives the money, votes for the candidates from whom it is received. In the past, candidates adopted different means to ensure that voters kept their word by asking them to take an oath in the name of their community deity. Now, the candidates want to pass off their representative as a relative of the voter at the polling booth. By doing so they want to ensure that the voter does not cheat on them,” a senior leader, said.
The deputy administration has prepared the list of voters who are illiterate and who can take help to exercise their franchise. The list of such persons has been published in the electoral rolls. “In case anybody has objection to making this facility available to any particular voter, we will inquire and take action”, Mr Vipul Bansal, Deputy Commissioner of Kalaburagi, said.

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( Source : deccan chronicle )
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