Kasani Veeresh, General Secretary, Jana Jagruthi Academy today in a strongly worded letter urged the Telangana State Election Commission to ease guidelines around the ongoing Graduates' Voter Registration drive. The letter asked the state election body to take cognizance of the negative impact of COVID on voter turnout and immediately implement corrective measures to address the issue.
Kasani Veeresh, General Secretary, Jana Jagruthi Academy submitting the representation to Dr. Shashank Goel Garu, Chief Electoral Officer - Telangana
The letter advised corrective measures to address two large problem areas affecting the registration numbers - low awareness about the initiative and complicated voter registration process. The letter addressed to Dr. Shashank Goel, Chief Electoral Officer - Telangana, informed the state election body about the barriers faced by graduate voters on-ground due to COVID restrictions. The letter suggested the following steps to offset the negative impact of COVID on the registration process.
Extension of voter registration deadline by 15 days in view of the information barriers induced by COVID outbreak, floods and heavy rainfall in the city.
Acceptance of new voter applications in the 'period of filing of claims and objections' (1st December - 31st December) and inclusion of new voters in the supplementary voter list scheduled to be released on 12th January, 2021 in line with the decision by Kerala State Election Commission to feature new voters even in the supplementary voters' list for its local body elections scheduled in December, 2020.
Acceptance of self-attested educational documents for voter registration to avoid possible exposure of voters to COVID virus from visiting the highly frequented offices of gazetted officers and also align themselves with the Recommendations made in Second Administrative Reforms Commission in its 12th report (February, 2009) by the central government
Immediate deputation and mobilization of door-to-door verification teams to verify voter information and educational documents at the doorstep of the voter and use the same modus operandi followed for voter verification in Assembly Elections and Lok Sabha Elections.
Kasani Veeresh, General Secretary, Jana Jagruthi Academy on submitting the application to State Election Commission said, "I have requested the State Election Commission of Telangana to extend the deadline for voter registration and accept self-attestation of educational documents for online voter application in view of the low voter turnout in Graduates' Voter Registration program. Chasing gazetted officers and notary officers for verification of documents during COVID puts a voter's health at risk."
He further added, "State Election Commission of Telangana must immediately depute door-to-door verification teams and follow the same modus operandi used to verify voters in Assembly Elections and Lok Sabha Elections."
While conducting Graduates' voter awareness program which resulted in 35,000+ registrations for the initiative, the team lead Jana Jagruthi Academy noted very low awareness levels on the ground for Graduates' Voter Registration drive. The letter apprised the state body on the broken information channels due to COVID restrictions and resistance of voters from stepping outdoors for document verification. Veeresh Kasani in the letter also expressed his fear that lakhs of graduates will choose not to register their votes in case the voter registration guidelines are not relaxed.
The team at Jana Jagruthi Academy also made sure to only suggest changes which require no big systemic change and are quick to implement.
About Kasani Veeresh
Kasani Veeresh is a second-generation politician from the state of Telangana and has been working for over a decade on initiatives around voter awareness, caste discrimination and women empowerment. Kasani Veeresh also serves as the General Secretary for Telangana Rashtra Mudiraj Mahasabha and 93 BC Kulala Ekya Vedika. He has also served as the president for Telangana District Cricket Association from 2007-18.