As many as three crore Muslims and four crore Dalits are among the 12.7 crore eligible voters whose names are missing from electoral rolls, claims Hyderabad based software engineer Khalid Saifullah.
Most of these voters have legitimate voters’ ID cards but their names are missing from the electoral rolls, either due to ignorance or because of mischief.
According to his study, as many as 15% of all voters in the country—including 25% of the Muslims and 20% Dalits—were found missing from electoral rolls till the end of February this year.
The 38-year-old CEO of RayLabs is using technology to ensure that all the eligible voters cast their vote in the ensuing parliamentary elections. Saifullah has founded the Missing Voter App which is helping thousands of people to get their names registered on the electoral rolls.
Discrepancies in Gujarat
“Huge discrepancies came to my notice during the 2014 parliamentary elections when lakhs of Muslim names got deleted from the voter’s list,” he recalled, adding that “it prompted me to undertake a study in Gujarat where names of lakhs of Muslims were dropped from the electoral lists in at least 16 Assembly Constituencies during 2017 polls. The BJP candidates won with slight margins of often 3000 votes from these seats.”
“When I was analysing the voter lists, I found, for example, there was only one registered voter each from over 1800 households in Godhra,” he said, asking, “Is it possible? Where did the rest of the voters go?”
That is when, he said, he started working on a free mobile App called Missing Voters. The App, according to him, provides the details of all the street names of constituencies, the number of households and the number of voters in each household.
“While sitting in Hyderabad, I can find out that a voter from Gaffar colony of Okhla in Delhi is missing from the electoral list with the help of technology,” he remarked.
WATCH | How the eligible voters can get registered in electoral rolls
“The App can be used to identify missing voters, do a household survey and apply for a new voter ID card and registration online,” he said, adding that the Missing Voters App can be downloaded from the Google play store or after giving a missed call on 8099 683 683.
“Over 80,000 volunteers have registered with us since the launch of the Missing Voters App. It has helped us to file as many as 48,000 applications with the National Voters’ Service Portal since February 1 this year. The success rate has been 80 percent,” Saifullah stated, requesting the citizens to download the App and help eligible voters to get registered.
There is still time
“We still have 12 days before the first phase of polls begin, and we can get over 3 lakhs eligible voters registered in this time frame,” he remarked.
“A volunteer can help any unregistered voter by just sparing a few minutes online. All that is required filling three columns and forwarding the information to RayLabs where we complete the remaining formalities before uploading the documents on the National Voters’ Service Portal,” he said.
How names are deleted
“The political activists working for a specific politician or a political party can go to the National Voters’ Service Portal and apply Form Seven in their name. If I want that Naveed Saab’s name must me dropped from the electoral list, I can go online and fill Form Seven that Naveed Hamid saab no longer lives here,” he informs.
“Ideally, a polling booth agent should pay a visit to verify,” he asserted.
The deletion of names from the voter lists, he further said, could also happen because of ignorance. “Mostly, Muslims and Dalits live in rented houses. They change their place of residence but don’t change their voter ID cards.”
Appealing to the volunteers and the eligible voters whose names are missing from the electoral rolls, he said, “Your 20 minutes can decide the next Prime Minister of the country.”
Saifullah, who also works with the Centre for Research and Debates in Development Policy, New Delhi, claimed to have done analysis of electoral data of voter lists of Karnataka also. It helped the state to register 18 lakh Muslim voters who were otherwise missing during 2018 state Assembly elections, he stated.
In the past, Saifullah’s RayLabs has developed a multilingual website, muslimfreedomfighters.com. He has also developed mobile App, Muslim Freedom Fighters. It gives information about 155 Muslim freedom fighters.
Early this year, he had founded #HateHatao, an App to report and fight hate crimes, for Citizens for Justice and Peace. The organisation—which is helmed by Teesta Setalvad—seeks justice for the victims of the communal violence.
The revolutionary App on the Google Play Store enables citizens to report cases of hate speech, threats and hate crimes with evidence like screenshots, videos or pictures through Android mobile phones.