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A short travel you just can’t miss this year – To your polling booth

I went to the polling booth only to be told that my vote was already cast. Here’s my theory on why it happened.

Photo courtesy: AP Photo/Anupam Nath

On 18thApril 2019, I made way to my polling booth [No.106] in Bangalore, with my Voter’s ID and Voter's Slip. It was almost 1:00 pm and the queue to vote was only just getting a bit thick. We are 6 adults listed for voting from my address and besides me, they had all voted and were flaunting inked index fingers.

When it was my turn, however, much to my surprise, I was already struck out on the list. "You have already voted, madam", I was told.

I was pretty sure that it was an honest mistake.

I believe that so did the poll officers. They checked my finger and matched my face to my ID and their list. They checked the two other duplicate lists, that they mark together as due diligence. Both, one English and one Kannada, showed that I had voted. So, they went backwards on the handwritten list – the 3-column record, first column with the voter number, the second with the last 4 digits of an ID, and the last slot, where you sign. Leafing backwards, about 8-10 pages prior, they spotted my number. And, I while I was hoping to see an unfamiliar name next to it, the signature had my name! It was a simple signature, nothing like my cursive one.

The noteworthy observation is that my name is mis-spelt on my Election ID card. This signature had blindly copied the misspelling.

This was the real shock.

It was evident that this was not a goof-up. What I couldn’t understand was how, in a family of 6 registered in this constituency, at a location that I have been voting since legal age, just my name had been voted against.

And, then it dawned on me. Could the fact that I missed the last two seasons of voting [as I was staying outside the city] have anything to do with this? Could someone have gone the lengths to figure the pattern, create a fake ID, stand in queue, and cast my vote?

Could someone have tried to be me?

My anger disappeared, because it replaced with fear. This incident makes me realise that identity theft could really be that easy. That access to information is, probably, really that simple. If someone can cast a vote in my name, she can get a phone connection or a gas connection or a rental agreement or heaven knows what in my name!

As an honest citizen, I am scared and concerned.

Phase 3 of elections begin from tomorrow, April 23. I can only request everyone who is due to vote, to please step out, travel up to your booth and vote! We may not vote because we feel that there isn’t a worthy candidate, or that, it’s that much needed holiday that we can use, or that, one vote won’t make a difference, or that, we live elsewhere now.

If you don’t think there is someone worthy, please cast a NOTA.

But don’t give anyone else an opportunity to decide what kind of an India we will become in the next 5 years, by pretending to be you.

Please, please vote. Thank you.

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