Efforts by Election Commission to include citizens from the marginalised sections on electoral roll have started showing results. Beginning with a meagre figure of only 62 such voters on its list a year back, the EC has been able to enrol over 7,000 homeless people in the city so far.
But senior EC officials said their job did not end with just getting the voters enrolled, as they would now have to ensure that those people actually exercise their franchise. "Homeless people have been a thrust area for us. When we started, we had just 62 people on the electoral rolls. We started a big drive and, with the collaboration of NGOs, have been able to enrol more than 7,000 homeless so far... Our drive will continue in the coming days," said Delhi's Chief Electoral Officer, Vijay Dev. "We want to ensure that through our motivational measures, all of them (homeless voters) come and vote this time as their participation would make our democracy stronger," Dev added.
The senior official put the number of homeless in Delhi at over 25,000. Field surveys are being conducted for enrolling more homeless people on the voter's list, he added. "In fact, we have collaborated with former chief election commissioner S Y Quraishi, who works for the homeless, organising camps and shelters," he said.
EC guidelines say that a booth level officer will visit the spot where a homeless person states he resides on three occasions; if the person is found there, then it becomes his/ her address, be it under a flyover or any spot in the city. However, when it comes to enrolling transgenders, or "others" as they are referred to on electoral rolls, EC has not been able to achieve much success. So far, just a little over 550 of these voters have been mentioned on electoral rolls.
According to EC officials, there are many "practical problems" confronting them. "There is a problem that many of them do not want to get themselves identified or register as either male or female. We cannot sit in judgement (on the issue) and gender is mentioned on the basis of their self-declaration," said a senior official.
Another difficulty arises when a person, who was previously registered as either male or female, comes to us with a request to change the gender as mentioned on the electoral roll, the official said. Officials added that although the number of voters registered in the "others" category was few, many of these voters might be on the rolls as either male or female.
EC was ready to organise a camp at any place where a group of transgender persons are interested to get themselves enrolled, Dev said.