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Goof-ups in address bog down voters

Rajeev Nagar, by geography’s standards, is a residential neighbourhood in Patna but not when it comes to first-time voter Nutan’s elector’s photo identity card (EPIC).

A disappointed Nutan had to return her new voter ID card at the special enrolment camp at Patna’s Magistrate Colony on Tuesday. It mentioned Rajeev Nagar was in Calcutta, which is more than 550km from her city.

Devendra Kumar Lal, a resident of Ambedkar Path, too has been trying to get his address corrected on his voter identity card since 1995.

“I have completely lost faith in the Election Commission, as they have not been able to make a simple correction in my EPIC for the past two decades. If I do not get it corrected this time, then I would apply for a new one,” said Lal, who is in his 40s.

After the special voter registration drive held across Bihar failed on Sunday, the Election Commission decided to give it another go. But, such errors were found aplenty at the numerous voter camps set up across Patna on Tuesday.

Although booth-level officers were present at most of the camps, shortage of forms was a problem at many places.

“I was given 200 form 6 (for fresh registration in electoral list) on Sunday and another 250 forms on Tuesday. The distribution of forms must have been done based on the present voter list, but the population seems to have risen considerably over the past few years. So, the forms fell short,” said Dhirendra Kumar, a booth-level officer at Sharon’s Academy at Ashiana Nagar.

According to the final roll published on January 1, there are over 6 lakh voters in Bihar, including 3,30,98,022 men and 2,90,08,544 women.

On Sunday, officers concerned were asked to be present at their respective booths from 9am to 5pm to help bona fide residents register their names on the electoral list. Unfortunately, many of the officials were found missing and forms for new registration or corrections were also unavailable.

Despite the cold shoulder given by the officials, Patna district magistrate-cum-returning officer N. Saravana Kumar claimed that around 1 lakh forms were submitted for fresh registration for EPICs on Sunday.

Residents did not just have problems for insufficient forms — they even faced trouble finding the booths.

“Today (Tuesday), I found my booth was shifted to Nageshwar Colony from Rajapur Pul. The officials told me that reshuffling of booths have been done in a number of areas because of a rise in population in the recent years,” said Saurav Kumar, a resident of SK Nagar.

Authorities claimed the voter registration drive was comparatively successful on Tuesday.

“The camps went off smoothly and booth-level officers were present at most places. There were a few places where people tried to submit form 6 in bulk, which were not accepted. Many people also sought EPICs for registrations done recently but the camps were not meant that,” said Saravana.