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Voters fume,find names missing or changed

Besides a poor turnout,there was another unhappy theme for polling day in the financial capital; the disappointment faced by several hundred voters who couldn’t find their names on the voter list.

Written by Express News Service | New Delhi |
May 1, 2009 2:03:47 am

Besides a poor turnout,there was another unhappy theme for polling day in the financial capital; the disappointment faced by several hundred voters who couldn’t find their names on the voter list.

“I have been voting for two decades now and both my wife and I have our ID cards intact. Four years ago I shifted my residence from Chembur Camp to Mahul and this year we applied for a change in address. However,our names are nowhere to be found. We have been running from one booth to the other as per directions given to us by the ‘help desk’ stationed in every booth. Its surprising that we could not vote despite having voted in the past,” said a disillusioned businessman,Dayal Wadhvani. Both he and his wife Leena went for a final try at the Guru Nanak High School in Chembur Camp where surprisingly Leena found her name listed but her husband’s name could not be found.

“The minute I saw that our names were not included,I lost interest in casting my vote. I have two children aged 20 and 23 and both of them had registered to vote for the first time this year. They are also not on the list,” said an angry Leena.

 Similar problems plagued some of the voters in Cheeta Camp who spent the first half of the day poring through lists and the remaining half criticising the mistakes in the lists that rendered them unable to vote. “I have been a registered voter since 1994 and even have my photo ID. But this time when I went to vote,I saw that my surname,address, and ID numbers were the same but my name was replaced with that of a woman’s,” said Sheikh Abbas Ali. “My son’s name is followed by my name instead of his father’s and now reads Irfan Haseena Bano. My son initially refused to vote because of this blunder. After much persuasion,he eventually cast his vote.” 

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In Mumbai South,the editor of a national Hindi daily found his name and those of his wife and younger son deleted from the rolls,though his elder son was able to cast his vote. “We had checked our names and serial numbers on the online electoral roll of the state government last night,” he said. “Our names were all there,together. We have been voting from the Fellowship High School polling centre in Malabar Hill Assembly constituency for years. It was a shock to find names of three of us with a ‘deleted’ stamp against them.” Polling staff could offer no reason for the deletion either.

 In Vile Parle,Ghilane Edwards,who got married after the last general election,found that her maiden name was registered in the electoral roll despite having a Voter ID with her post-marriage name. “What is the point in telling us to vote when they can’t even maintain the system,” said an angry Edwards who returned without voting.

 Naina Hiranandani from Bandra realised that her honesty worked against her,“I received two Voter IDs,so I decided to do the right thing and cancel one. When I came to vote,they had removed my name from the rolls,and I couldn’t vote,” said Hiranandani.

 Even the famous were not spared as yesteryear actress Moushmi Chatterjee and her daughter Meghaa found out,“We have transferred our address but when we went in they told us our name wasn’t on the rolls and only after arguing for 45 minutes did they find the list that had our names,” she said.

 However,V Patel from Bandra must have had the most tiring experience,visiting three booths and then being told to return to the first. “I always vote from Durelo Convent but they told me that I should go to St Annes High School to vote. However my name wasn’t there. When I went to check at St Andrews College,I found that my name was in the rolls at Durelo Convent booth where I finally voted,” said Patel

 Zaibunnisa Sheikh from Jogeshwari east had a tough time locating her polling station. “I’ve searched for my name outside all polling stations. I had to run across three polling stations before I realized my name was at St Mary Primary school,” she said. However,by the time Sheikh verified her name and tried to vote,it was 5.00 pm.

Zayeda Sheikh who had recently shifted to Versova from her earlier address near the Jogeshwari Western Express highway was another in the group of women voters who could not vote at this station. “I reached here late as I had to finish household chores and then travel from Versova to Jogeshwari,” she said. Although a group of people forced the zonal officer and observers at this sensitive station to allow voting—it was 5.02 p—¿the gates for the station were shut.

 Lassandra Lobo,a student of St. Andrews College in Bandra and a first-time voter residing with her family at IC Colony had been very excited,as she was to caste her vote the first time. However,her excitement fizzled out when she reached the St. Francis School voting booth to be told her name was not on any voter list.

“Many of my colleagues and friends and I were registered as voters by a NGO which had visited colleges and helped students get themselves registered for voting. However,today when I came to cast my vote,I was told that my name is not on any list in any polling booth,” said Lobo,her enthusiasm for voting considerably depleted. Another student,who was present with her,said,“What was more shocking was that when we asked the staffers at the booth about what could be done about our names not being present,we were told to vote the next time the elections came up!  It’s really disheartening to know that after all the motivational speeches given to us about voting being our right and duty,we are not able to do that due t the ineffectiveness of the election machinery.”

 In areas like Malad and Kandivali,BJP polling agents complained that the names of voters from entire building were missing. They said that names of people from Daffodila building,Gomes House and Royal Apartment in Orlem,Malad along with residents of Rustomjee Rivera,Chandrabhuvan Govas wadi abd Navshakti Villa,were missing.

In another incident,names of residents from Mangal Prabhat chawl in Malad,which was demolished six months ago,featured in the list.

Another voter,who had to run from booth to booth in his locality,was an 80-year-old Labhshankar Lakhlani,who was told that his name was not in the voter list in IC Colony,Borivali. “I have been voting for 32 years now at this very booth. However,today I was told that my name is not in this booth and that I should check with the other booths in the locality. How do they expect me to visit each and every booth to find where my name has been registered? These people have no consideration about factors like old age or inability to travel regularly due to illness or other reasons.”

A King Edward Memorial Hospital employee Girish Rathod,winner of a 2 crore lottery two years ago,was shocked to find his mother’s name deleted and declared dead,when he entered the polling booth near Arthur Road naka on Thursday afternoon. Rathod was tagging along his 80-year-old mother Sonaben. “My sister-in-law Diya Rathod died a couple of years. Along with her,these officials also considered my mother who has been voting all her life to be dead. She was not allowed to vote,” said Girish.

“We had published the provisional lists as early as January 22. Members and chairmen of societies should have corrected the names in that list and informed us about it. The changes would have been made by us,” said Mumbai suburban district collector Vishwas Patil.

Patil said that to avoid the usual complaint of celebrities missing their names in the list,the department had ensured a special procedure of contacting each one of them and making sure their names and details were known to them.

(By Aiswarya A,Aditya Paul,Shweta Desai,Jaidev Hemmady,Swatee Kher)

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