Voters list’ on the web. Good move, yes, but…

GOVINDA K. writes: The deputy commissioner of Mysore, N.S. Channappa Gowda, has announced that the voters’ list of Mysore district has been computerised and is available on the web for the public at http://www.mysore.nic.in/ele_lac_list.htm.

This is a welcome development as, on election day, we routinely come across many people who complain that their names are missing from the voters’ list though they have a valid voter ID card. Putting up the names of valid voters on the web before the elections will therefore help voters to avoid this unpleasant possibility.

However, there are many shortcomings in the way the voters’ list has been put up.

First of all, the pages of the web page have the name “Untitled”. Hence search engines like google will not index these pages. Hence, when we type the keywords “mysore voters list” on any search engine, we will not get correct results.

The second problem is that it seems to take ages to search our names because of the manner the information has been put up. The voters’ list is divided into separate constituencies and then according to the area.

The right way of displaying the information would have been to use the database system. Database means that the data is stored in a systematic and structured form. A simplest example would be of how we key in employee information in an Excel spreadsheet. The advantage of using a standard database structure is:

# Searchability of the database using different fields

# Easy implementation of changes which automatically makes changes in other fields

# Easy and error free generation of statistics

I am still not sure whether our Election Commission is using any database manager and making a proper database but here is a good example of how the voters’ list could have been put up: http://soundpolitics.com/voterlookup.html

On that page, the people of the state of Washington can search their names from the vast voters’ list. They can streamline their search by specifying their house number, street name. Searching a name does not take more than three minutes.

The state of Washington also offers a CD-ROM of the voters’ database for every month, so that political parties, citizens’ groups, and citizens can keep an eye on the voters’ database: https://www.secstate.wa.gov/elections/vrdb_order.aspx

They charge a meagre amount of $30 for a copy of each month’s voter database. We are free to choose from different formats of database, so that we can use the same on on our own website. And we can even make custom search fields.

When the Washington example is contrasted by the way the Mysore district administration has put up the voters’ lists, the contrast is stark. Our voters’ list has been put up in PDF format. The data has been keyed in Kannada using a proprietary software called Shree Lipi. Hence you will need to buy the Shree Lipi software if you want to perform search functions.

The government of Karnataka had passed an order asking all its offices to use Nudi software only. If Nudi had been used to key in the information on the voters’ list, we could have used Baraha software to search our names, since the scheme of fonts used in Baraha 6.0 and Nudi 4 are same.

I tried searching my name on the website advertised by the Mysore district administration but have not found it yet and am still searching. But that should not deter you.

I request all Mysoreans to make use of this feature and verify their names in the voters’ list. And we should also verify if fictitious names exist in our house or neighbouring houses. A friend told me that during the last corporation elections, the names of people belonging to one whole apartment block in V.V. Mohalla were missing.

A revision of voters’ list will be made very soon. I also request all those who do not have their names in the voters’ list to get them included in the coming days. By verifying the voters’ list, we can reduce fake, proxy votes and increase genuine voters. This will result in the strengthening of our democracy.