'Missing' voter names results in low turnout in GHMC elections

Deccan Chronicle.  | Harleen Minocha

Nation, Current Affairs

Some of them turned up to vote but found that their vote had been cast by someone else

CPM state secretary Tamineni Veerabhadram gets disappointed and leaves polling station number 8 at Indraprastha colony of Amberpet division after his name was missing from the electoral rolls in the GHMC elections. (DC Image)

Hyderabad: Voters had many reasons to explain why they did not take part in the GHMC elections on Tuesday While the BJP blamed the TRS for the low turnout, the voters said they stayed away because they had no holiday, the fear of the Coronavirus or because their names were missing from the voter list.

Some of them turned up to vote but found that their vote had been cast by someone else.

Sreeharsha and mother Padmaa Thanneeru, voters from V.V. Nagar, Kukatpally, said: "Our names were not there even in the assembly elections voter list, and that continued for these elections too. We are not sure why they were deleted earlier, when both my mother and I have our voter ID cards with us."

Sreeharsha added that he did try to re-register as a voter, but because it didn't go through he decided to give up. "One reason could be that when the officials came to verify at our house, we may have been out for work, and they cancelled our names," he said.

Razia Fatima Sultan from Ramanaspura complained she stood in the queue but when she entered the booth she was told that her vote had been cast by someone else.

"The polling officers asked me to vote in someone else's name, which I refused to do. The officials there were openly telling voters that they can cast as many votes as they want. Do they want everyone to cheat," Fatima asked.

This reporter observed that several voters did not download the e-slips sent as an SMS, which created confusion as the State Election Commission had set up additional polling stations as part of Covid-19 guidelines to reduce the rush of people. These voters went to their regular polling stations and found that their names were missing.

But then, there were others who did not find their names in any booth. Syed Mohammed Abdullah Sultan, a first time voter from Charminar division, and Rohith Bolineni from Allwyn Colony said that they did check in different polling booths around the area, but to no avail.

Bolineni said, "My father and I did not find our names on the list today, despite voting in the Lok Sabha polls last year. Just to make sure that it had been transferred to other wards, I did check in the GHMC app and verified it with the staff on ground, but to no luck."

He said the voter enrollment team had visited there for registration, and he had provided all documents, but it seems that didn't help. Rohith added that he had not received any e-slip.

Syed Mohammed said that he went around to other booths to check if his name was placed in the surrounding polling stations, but found it missing and could not vote.

Varun, a voter from Padmaraonagar, said that despite living in Hyderabad for 20 years, his mother Adbhuta Rani hadn’t received her voter ID card. He and three members of his family couldn’t vote because their names were missing. “We didn’t raise this issue with anyone, though we were not being able to vote for the general elections too. But I remember someone coming to our place and taking our details and documents before the elections. So we had expected that the names would be on the list', he said.

Jesu V, a senior citizen, said she had stepped out after three months to cast her vote, only to find out that her name was deleted from the list. She had been staying at home due to Covid-19 restrictios.

Speaking on the issue, Arun Daniel, founder, Youngistaan Foundation, said, “The attitude of the people is, ‘why should we get involved’. There is a need for a proper platform with government participation to increase awareness of the public, especially the youth. More involvement in constructive form will encourage many of them to come out and participate.”