VOTERS FACILITATION CENTRES (VFC) TO COME UP IN ALL 341 BDO OFFICES
By bappaditya paul
Come March and the people in Bengal will be able to get their names enrolled in the voters’ list at a BDO office near their home. This will save them the hassles of traveling all the way to a DM or SDO office, as is the current practice. The Election Commission (EC) in collaboration with the Union government’s Common Service Centres (CSC) is setting up Voters Facilitation Centres (VFC) in all the 341 BDO offices in Bengal. CSC is a project run under the National eGovernance Plan launched in 2006.
What’s more, those wanting their names included in the voters’ list need not even carry a hard copy of the prescribed form (Form 6). All they will need is to walk into a VFC with photograph, valid original documents in support of birth date and residential address; the person manning the VFC will fill in the required information directly into a software that is integrated up to the DM office.
According to the Chief Electoral Officer (CEO) of Bengal, Mr Sunil Kumar Gupta, a room / space in each of the BDO offices will be earmarked for VFC. CSC will equip the VFCs with computer, Internet connectivity and other related apparatus such as scanners; the EC will impart necessary training to individuals for manning the facility. “Under the present system, a person can apply for enrolment of name in the voters’ list by visiting the SDO or DM office where sits the Electoral Registration Officer (ERO) ~ the only person authorised by law to include or delete names. Once the VFCs are in place, people will be able to apply for name inclusion and voter card at the BDO office itself. For this, the VFC will charge a fixed amount of Rs 10,” Mr Gupta said.
Once an applicant approaches a VFC, the individual manning it will fill in all necessary information in a specially designed software and scan the supporting documents and photographs. After this, the applicant will be given a receipt and will be referred to the Assistant Electoral Registration Officer (AERO) in the same BDO office.
The AERO will check the application using the same integrated software and tally the supporting documents with the originals that are in possession of the applicant. On verification, the AERO will electronically refer the application to the ERO sitting in SDO or DM office; the ERO in turn will approve or disapprove the application using the same software.
A joint training programme for EROs, AEROs and the village level entrepreneurs (unemployed persons nominated by local gram panchayats) for running the VFCs will be carried out in the last week of February, the Bengal CEO informed.
(The author is on the staff of The Statesman, India. This report was first published in The Statesman on 30 January 2015.)