Voting Guide For First-Time Voters

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Potentially voting Indians in the age group 18-22 years in 2019 are approximately eight crores strong. In comparison, BJP swept the general elections 2014 by winning 17.3 crore votes throughout India from all age groups. The generation that missed out on a popular euphemism for itself is now missing out on exercising the overwhelming power over India’s elections that it potentially holds, given that only 2.3 crore new voters from this age group were registered by Election Commission of India till March 2019.

 But what are we waiting for?

Registering and voting process in India is now more streamlined than ever with very few cases of delay and immobilization of the verification process. Here is a step by step guide with all major questions addressed to help you through the registering and voting process.

1. REGISTERING ONLINE

Step 1: Locating the website

The only website you have to worry about is National Voters’ Service Portal.  Remember not to upload sensitive information on any other place and do not pay a penny to anyone else for registration unless it is impossible for you to do it yourself.

Logo of the tab to apply online

Step 2: Filling Information

Locate the sea green icon that says “Apply online for registration of new voter/due to shifting of AC.” The link will take you to Form 6 which is reserved only for new registrations in a particular constituency. Select the language you are comfortable in and fill your details accurately (It is always advisable to consult an elder at home to verify the details).

“Family/neighbour epic number” column is optional and only helps in verifying your chosen constituency.

While other details do not create problems, your address may come across as confusing. Every Indian citizen is allowed to provide their current address even if it is different from permanent address. There are a plethora of documents that can be submitted to get the current address verified. Documents mention in the form are-

  • passport
  • driving license
  • current passbook
  • ration card
  • Income tax assessment order
  • Rent agreement
  • water/telephone/electricity/gas connection bill and post/letter/mail delivered through Indian postal services.

In general, any piece of paper that contains your address and has sufficient credibility will do the magic.

Select the first radio button in the declarations column that declares that you have not previously registered, and complete the registration. Save the Reference ID allotted to your application.

radio buttons shown

Step 3: Wait for your Booth Level Officer

It might take anywhere from ten to thirty days to get a B.L.O appointed to your case. Hence it is advisable to complete the registration process at least two months before the election date. Once a B.L.O is appointed, the person will make a call and visit your address to verify it. Meanwhile, you can check your application status any time by visiting the NSVP portal (https://www.nvsp.in/) and using the reference ID.

Screenshot of online application status

Step 4: Collect your Voter ID

Once the B.L.O validates your application, your details will be entered in the electoral roll, and you will be provided with your EPIC number, which can be tracked in the application status. To check your name in the electoral roll, enter your EPIC ID in the “search your name in the electoral roll” tab and make sure all your details are correct. The Voter ID may take some time to reach your address. It can also be collected from the nearest Anganwadi centre.

Additional Steps:

Any changes in the details entered in electoral roll (except address) can be made by using Form 8 in the NVSP portal. To change your address with the same city as the previous address, use Form 8A. To shift to a different constituency altogether, you will need to apply fresh and select the second radio button in the declaration column, which declares your shift from one constituency to another.

2. PREPARATIONS FOR THE DAY OF VOTING

Voting is an exhilarating experience and a fundamental duty of every citizen enjoying the benefits of democracy, but this is also what scares people who consider politics to be a negative and unimportant factor in their lives. It is true that politics doesn’t come easy in a democratic nation, though truer is the fact that the only way to overcome the negativity is to keep oneself informed.

Checkbox 1: Know your government

It is imperative for any voter to keep track of the work done by present and previous governments. I believe each person should take their own experiences into account, ask for sources for each opinion they encounter and shape one of their own with effort.

With politicians and there being, well, politics in their field of work, the flexibility of data assumes greater importance. For example, an MLA might declare only a few assets on his name to avoid being scrutinized as a corrupt politician, while having most of his assets declared under his family member’s name. One needs to have an open mind while favoring (or hating) a particular candidate.

My Government-National portal of India is a helpful website.

Checkbox 2: Know your Candidates

People usually vote in General elections keeping the Prime Ministerial candidate in mind. A good candidate is a good leader, member of a party that is capable of securing a simple majority in the Lok Sabha (Simple majority currently refers to 272 seats in LS), unafraid of taking decisions and one who has only the People of India towards whom he/she stands accountable.

The situation, however, is different in Legislative assembly elections. Here, one’s sole focus has to be on the candidate standing from one’s constituency, because that person is the one who’s performance decides the progress that that constituency will undergo in the next five years.

A cliched excuse I hear from people is “none of the candidates are worth the vote.” It is a pessimistic and unnecessary approach. While I am not a big fan of NOTA option, as it does not have any real power (we see what you did there), I strongly suggest looking into the background of independent candidates. There almost always are independent candidates from all constituencies who stand in elections without any ulterior motive and deserve our attention.

A better website for Legislative assembly elections is http://www.myneta.info

Checkbox 3: Venue of polls

Now that you know who you who deserves to gain your vote, go back to the NVSP portal and search your booth under “Citizen Information” tab. The portal experiences heavy traffic on the day of polls, so it is advisable to extract your information beforehand. Here, you will get to know the venue that you have been allotted.

Checkbox 4: day of Polls

If you haven’t received your Voter ID or have misplaced it, fret not. In the largest celebration of democracy, a piece of paper should be the least of your worries and ECI understands this very well. Besides a voter ID, other documents that can be used are:

  • Passport
  • Driving License
  • Service ID card of state or central government
  • PAN card
  • AADHAR card
  • current passbook
  • MNREGA job card
  • health insurance card issued by ministry of labor
  • Pension document

As long as your name is there on the Electoral list, any of these documents will be accepted.

Booths work from 07:00 am to 06:00 pm with as many as ten workers on each booth. Election days are usually declared a holiday. A person has ample opportunity to visit the booth.

3. VOTING PROCESS

The actual voting process is only an exercise of several safety precautions and a sense of satisfaction in the end.

The process is as follows:

Step 1:

Polling officer 1 will look for an authenticated photo voter slip issued by the election machinery. You will receive this slip only if your name is present in the electoral roll and only this slip will allow you to proceed.

Step 2:

You will now go to Polling Officer 2, who will verify your identity proof and cross-check it with his/her records.

Step 3:

Now you go to polling officer 3 who will give you a slip and ask you to sign in a record book.

Step 4:

Here is the last level of human interaction where you have to submit your slip and get your index finger inked. Fun fact: You usually won’t be allowed to budge from the inking station for a few seconds. The act gives the Silver in the indelible ink some time to precipitate inside the skin cells and impart the characteristic brown color that cannot be removed manually(unless you slice off your finger, as someone in Delhi did this year).

Step 5:

When you step into the booth, in front of you is an EVM machine with the names and symbols of all the candidates and a VVPAT machine with a clear window. When you click the blue button against the name of your favored candidate, the orange light beside it glows, a slip is generated in the VVPAT machine, containing the name and symbol of the person you voted and will be visible through the window for seven seconds. A beep will play thereafter.

VVPAT and EVM machine kept together

If any of the above plays out in a fishy manner, you can report it to the polling officer who will now allow you to cast a test vote. If no issues are detected during the test vote, you will be asked to leave by a grumpy face, and the test vote will not be counted. Otherwise, the voting process will be stopped until the issue is fixed.

4. OTHER INFORMATION

Apart from the general elections, 2019 will also witness Legislative assembly elections in Haryana, Jharkhand and Maharastra later this year. Delhi and Pondicherry are going under the ballot in 2020. West Bengal, Tamil Nadu, Kerala, Assam and Jammu&Kashmir will face it in 2021. Then there are municipal elections and panchayat elections in rural areas.

Only in a democracy does a common man get the right to choose who his/her leader will be and gets to criticize the leader for keeping them on their toes. Being the largest democracy in the world, let us make sure that our votes don’t go waste. Begin, and keep voting.

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