Okay so there are those of us that don't vote, right. For whatever reason. Out of the country. Don't have a voter ID. Hate politics and politicians. Busy at work. I guess we rationalise it somehow. We know it is bad, and that this 'apathy' will come back to bite us in our back-sides at some point. But the whole process seems so painful that it is easy to put it out of our mind.
The thing is that while a person who is qualified to vote not casting their vote is a bad thing, I have recently discovered that there is a worse thing that can happen (and I am judging no one here, heck, when one finger points out..). Let me explain. In the last election, which was for the corporator, I found that two small cards were delivered to me at home. They had our names on them, along with our correct postal address. It was in Marathi (which thankfully shares the script with Hindi mostly), and I could figure out what it was, somehow.
I have a Voter ID from my home state, which I got made eons ago. The photo is un-recognisable. Most of the details are wrong. But it was a Voter ID. The procedure to transfer it to Maharastra, to the here and now, was (and still is) completely unclear. My mum said that those cards are now invalid, and she was asked to make new ones for herself, and of course by then I was not resident there any more so I could not get one for myself. She assures me that it is fair to assume that that one is useless and go about making a new one (she could be wrong, don't know. But most likely this is true as I cannot find my name online anywhere in my home town electoral rolls). Okay I said. When I was preggers and right after that pre-occupied with everything under the sun, an election came and went. It nicely passed me by. I lay awake for a bit with guilt and soon forgot about it (which is very easy; less easy to digest the ridiculous road construction on the main road outside the home).
Now this time, for the past month, I have been trying to get sorted out on this matter. There was a notice in chaste Marathi in the monster's school. The gist was that you could go figure something out there between the hours of 11 to 11:45 am. I came back to do some figuring out as to what I should ask for. The thing is that you don't want to get stuck in such situations without a clear definition of the problem. Anything can happen then. I have voted in the most recent corporator election thing (found some good information online that helped me choose who to vote for, but she lost) right, so I am on some list somewhere. But I don't have a card with my photo on it, so what does it mean? I called some numbers that were listed and no one picked up. I was ready to give up. But then I found two sites:
First One: Here you can figure out if your name is on the voter list, and presumably, also find the forms for things like inclusion of name etc. (Maharashtra only)
Second One: This is a campaign seemingly aimed at first time (read: young college students) voters, to get them to register to vote. Wish I had something like this in my youth. It is really cute.
Somehow between these two sites and several searches and switching between Firefox and Internet Explorer later, I have these surmises:
1. I am on the voter list for Mumbai (Suburban), although my name is wrong (they have given me my husband's last name, though my first name is correct. They got part of my address - i.e. the flat no. - correct).
2. I can print out a page which contains some serial number ascribed to me, and this will let me cast my vote - show Pan card for identity (who reads your last name anyway?).
3. I don't have a valid Voter ID card (with my photo on it), and should really make it soon
4. If I use lack of Voter ID card as excuse to not vote, SOMEONE else will cast my vote.
5. I can visit the local Electoral Registration Office (ERO) for which I now have the address and phone number (which works) and try to pull teeth out (or get my Voter ID card made), in January 2009, after the 10th. I should.
So yeah, it WOULD have been worse than ever. I am on a list based on what past crime I don't really know (most likely because of being a home owner), and not exercising my vote means allowing some dork to vote in my place. So when voter turn out is 34%, one could be counted in the 64% of those that did NOT show up (which would be bad); or in the 34% of those who showed up but were not you (which would be horrendous).