Looks like just the other day we were discussing the relative merits of the various candidates in the constituencies and how all of them seemed absolute twerps, and this week we have reached a stage where we have to go out and vote for one of them.
The choice before lay voters is only two a) Get cynical, choose not to vote and not make any difference to the system b) Stay positive, dutifully vote and still not make any difference to the system.
No, what we really want to stress here is we as voting public should not lose hope. It is only when we lapse into negativism that random boneheads sneak in and get into positions of power. But if we stay vigilant and exercise our democratic right then we at least give ourselves a chance to choose that bonehead.
Democracy, as Churchill sagely pointed out, is not without flaws. But it is still preferable because the alternatives to it wouldn’t allow insufferable blokes like Churchill to become leaders.
This election week, we at Crank’s Corner have taken up a set of questions that we completely made up and answered them in a completely facetious and irresponsible manner. Because we are a democracy, you see.
What are the documents that can help me cast my vote?
The voter ID card, created primarily for the purpose, is a fail-proof document to get a telephone connection. For actual voting, there are twelve valid documents using which you can vote, provided 1) There is polling in your constituency 2) You know the date of polling.
My voter ID card is riddled with mistakes. The name is spelled wrongly. The address is faulty. The pic is grotesque and unidentifiable. What should I do now?
As such every detail in the ID looks wrong. So we would like to give the benefit of doubt to the EC here and believe that it is somebody else’s voter ID that it has goofed up and not yours.
Alternatively, you can start looking grotesque and spell your name wrongly.
How safe are the EVMs?
Manual voting is fraught with risks as the world saw in the US Presidential election in 2000 when the State of Florida kept the world guessing for several days after the results were out. But to mess up badly with the ballots in a race that basically involved just two contestants takes enormous stupidity that only Americans are capable of. An EVM, on the other hand, is electronic chip-controlled and when you are casting your vote through it you can rest assured that you are backed by the same computer-based high-end technology that recently sent a Rs.2.5 crore electricity bill to a Madhya Pradesh farmer who had two lights and one fan in his house.
What should I do if my vote is already cast by someone else?
You must find that person, thank him and come back home to continue watching TV.
No, my question is what do I have to do to cast my vote that someone else has already?
The Election Commission rules for this are pretty clear. If some impersonator has already cast your vote, the onus of proving that you are indeed you lies solely with you.
The Constitution Of India, which guarantees the right to vote to every adult citizen, is a pretty handy and weighty book to have in such circumstances. If you find your vote has been cast already and the polling officer is uncooperative, you must reach for your copy of the Constitution of India, and holding it firmly but confidently, throw it on the officer’s face. Being a heavy book, the polling officer would be bleeding in the attack, and if he/she were still alive, would call for the police, who will file a FIR in your name, and using the same –- which is a valid document of proof –- you can vote.
Can I participate in opinion polls?
The Election Commission has not precluded anyone from participating in opinion polls but has merely banned the declaration of results of the same (in the last few days to the election) as a large-hearted courtesy to the pollsters, who, as far as I know, have never got any result right. Thanks to the Election Commission’s stringent rule, pollsters are still in business.
How tough has the EC been on poll spending by candidates?
The EC is indeed maintaining an eagle-eyed vigil on poll spending. For instance, during outstation campaigning, if a candidate runs out of clean underwear and buys a fresh set, as per rules, it will be deemed as election expense and the candidate will have to provide a valid reason as to why he needed the underwear in the first place. The candidate, if he gets elected, can later defray this cost from the constituency development fund.
Throw some light on ‘NOTA’
Thanks to a SC order, the NOTA option has been formally incorporated in the EVMs and your ‘no vote to anyone’ will now be part of the official polled numbers, in that it will be recorded and totaled along with that of the others who had exercised NOTA option and — this is why democracy is better than any other form of governance — not taken into consideration at all.
In short, NOTA, which is the acronym for Not Taken into Account, allows the voting public a choice to register their ‘opposition’ to the candidates in a manner that is completely legal and totally laughable.
What is your advice to first-time voters?
Be responsible and use the opportunity in the best possible manner: Don’t forget to take selfies in the polling booth.