Democracy is government by the people. It is a continual participative operation, not a cataclysmic periodic exercise. The little man, in his multitude, marking his vote at the poll does a social audit of his Parliament plus political choice of this proxy.[i] Democracy is not a spectator sport, it’s a participatory event. To participate in this festive event of democracy, as citizens we ought to exercise our right to vote whereby we can elect our representatives who will form the government. Conscious awareness about the electoral process transforms the citizens into informed voters.
Who can Vote in India?
The elections to the House of the People and to the Legislative Assembly of every State shall be on the basis of adult suffrage; that is to say, every person who is a citizen of India and who is not less than [eighteen years][ii] of age on such date as may be fixed in that behalf by or under any law made by the appropriate Legislature and is not otherwise disqualified under this Constitution or any law made by the appropriate Legislature on the ground of non-residence, unsoundness of mind, crime or corrupt or illegal practice, shall be entitled to be registered as a voter at any such election.[iii]
The superintendence, direction and control of the preparation of the electoral rolls for, and the conduct of, all elections to Parliament and to the Legislature of every State and of elections to the offices of President and Vice-President held under this Constitution is vested with the Election Commission of India.[iv]
The date for attainment of 18 years of age as required under Art.326 has been fixed as 1st January of the year for which the electoral roll is prepared. Such citizens are entitled to be registered as voters in the constituency where they ordinarily reside. Only persons who are of unsound mind and have been declared so by a competent court or disqualified due to ‘Corrupt Practices’ or offences relating to elections are not entitled to be registered in the electoral rolls.
What is an Electoral Roll?
An electoral roll is a list of all eligible citizens who are entitled to cast their vote in an election. The electoral rolls are prepared Assembly Constituency wise. To exercise your franchise, the first and foremost requirement is that your name should be in the electoral roll. Without your name registered in the relevant part for the area where you ordinarily reside in the Assembly Constituency, you will not be allowed to exercise your franchise. Therefore, it is your duty to find out whether your name has been registered or not.[v]
How to know if you are a part of the electoral roll?
First of all, it is important to verify if your name is a part of the electoral roll. This can be done by adhering to the following steps:
1. Visit the National Voter Service Portal at https://www.nvsp.in/
2. On the left side of the page, there will be a search bar where you can search your name.
3. Once you click on the search bar, it guides you to a new window with 2 types of search options.
4. Search by Details
5. Search by EPIC No. (Electors Photo Identification Card).
6. Fill in the required details and enter the captcha code and then click on search.
7. If your name and other details appear at the bottom of the NVSP website, you are eligible to vote.
Other Methods include checking your name through SMS or by making a call.
SMS: Go to your inbox and create a new message. Type EPIC (space) Your Voter ID number then send it to 7738299899.
Call: You can also call the helpline number 1950.
If your name does not appear in either of these, it is important to ensure that your name is entered into the electoral roll. Else, you cannot vote. Mere possession of EPIC does not entitle an individual to vote. It is mandatory for his/her name to be a part of the electoral roll. It is also pertinent to note that, an individual’s name should be in one electoral roll only. If present in more than one roll, it is an offence.
What can be done if your name is not on the electoral list?
Normally there are two revisions that are carried out before preparing the electoral list. They are:
1. Intensive Revision – It is done once in five years. The a draft roll is prepared after house to house enumeration and published at every polling booth location for inviting claims and objections.
2. Summary Revision – It is done every year. The existing electoral rolls are published at each polling booth locations to invite claims and objections for inclusion, deletion, modification and transposition. After due enquiry all the claims and objections are decided and a supplementary electoral roll is prepared and published.
It is suggested that the voter is vigilant during these revisions. Even if not, the voter can still register himself/herself again.
There are two modes to register again:
1. Online Mode
2. Offline Mode
Online Mode – Steps to be followed
1. Visit the official ECI website: nic.in
2. Scroll down and click on ‘Register to Vote’.
3. It redirects the user to the NSVP Portal.
4. There will be tabs / tiles showing various Forms.
5. Fill Form 6 with all the details. Form 6 is for Application for Inclusion of Name in Electoral Roll for First time Voter OR on Shifting from One Constituency to Another Constituency.
6. Submit the form and keep track until the name is added to the roll.
Offline Mode – Steps to be followed
If you want to submit your application offline, you can download the Form 6 from the ECI’s official website, fill in the details and submit it to the Electoral Registration Officer (ERO) of your parliamentary constituency. You will be enrolled as a voter.
It is also pertinent to note the purpose of the other forms –
Form 6A: Application for inclusion of name in electoral roll by an overseas elector. (Corresponds to Rule 8B).
Form 7: Application for objecting inclusion or seeking deletion of name in electoral roll (Corresponds to Rules 13(2) and 26).
Form 8: Application for correction to particulars entered in electoral roll (Corresponds to Rules 13(1) and 26).
Form 8A: Application for transposition of entry in electoral roll (in case of Shifting from One Place of Residence to Another Place of Residence within Same Constituency) (Corresponds to Rules 13(4) and 26).
We, the people, through the exercise of our right to vote have the ultimate power to shape the destiny of country by electing our representatives who run the Government and take decisions for the growth, development and benefit of all the citizens. Hence, it is important to be aware of the rights as a citizen and to be vigilant voters.
[i] Mohinder Singh Gill v. Chief Election Commissioner, AIR 1978 SC 851.
[ii] As amended by the Constitution (Sixty First) Amendment Act, 1988.
[iii] Art.326, Constitution of India.
[iv] Art.324, Constitution of India.
[v] ECI, A Guide for Voters, https://eci.gov.in/files/file/5474-a-guide-for-voters/ (Last visited 25th July, 2019, 21.30 hours (IST)).