(Any views expressed in this article are those of the author and not necessarily those of Thomson Reuters Corp.)
Fifty-four percent of Bangalore‘s eligible voters showed up at the polls on April 17, a disappointing number considering the high turnout in some states. I was not among them, but it was not for lack of trying. Despite doing everything correctly, my application never went through.
I was 18 the last time India held national elections. Since then, we moved around a lot. I was looking forward to voting this year for the first time. A record number of people are registered to vote in this election, and the country is at a crossroads as it considers whether to kick out the Gandhi-Nehru dynasty and its Congress party in favour of the Bharatiya Janata Party and prime ministerial hopeful Narendra Modi, or perhaps a third front of other parties.
I was eager to include my voice in the nation’s decision. I filled out the forms and gave copies to volunteers in the Reuters Bangalore newsroom who submitted the applications to the Election Commission. Voters’ names are supposed to appear on the electoral rolls six weeks after submission. The deadline for applications to reach the Election Commission was March 16. Voting day in the state of Karnataka where I live was April 17. I checked my application status online on April 15 and saw that it was still “under process”.
I called the Electoral Registration Officer that day to ask why I wasn’t registered yet. An officer there told me to call my ward office to confirm that it went through because it might not necessarily reflect online. I asked an official at my local area ward office what was happening. He said that if the Election Commission hadn’t processed my application yet, it was probably too late for me to vote. When I asked why this happened, he said that it could be because Election Commission officials either lost my application or didn’t have time to process it. At that point, another worker there said that I should go home and wait for the voting slips that the commission distributes 48 hours before polling. If I didn’t get it, then it was too bad for me.