by Nikhil M. Nainani
(You can find all the forms mentioned in the article by clicking on their names; the links have also been consolidated at the end.)
As most of us are aware, the general elections for the 16th Lok Sabha, the Lower House of the Indian Parliament, are to be held this summer. The last two times they were held, in 2009 and in 2004, polling took place between mid-April and early May. If that continues to be the case this year, the polls will fall right in the middle of our semester, and it is quite unlikely that any non-localites among us at IITM will be able to visit their home constituency to vote. But this does not mean that we cannot exercise our right to vote — in fact, there are certain provisions that allow us to vote right here in Chennai.
Every student enrolled in a program outside his/her native city, who has been residing in a hostel for more than 6 months, is eligible to vote from the constituency that their hostel falls under. Here at IIT Madras, we fall under the Chennai South Constituency. More details about this constituency can be found here. To register, one needs to fill two forms. The first of these is ‘form 6’, which is mandatory for all first-time voters and voters who have changed their constituency, while the second one is a bonafide certificate to prove that you are a student of your college and has to be signed by the Dean/Director/Registrar.
Going by the demographics of our campus, almost everyone at IITM is eligible to vote. Most of us are first-time voters, which makes these elections even more important for us. However, if you do register, make sure you actually go and vote, since there is a good chance that someone else might vote on your behalf if you don’t. Also, if you are registered as a voter in your native city but are sure that you will not be present there on polling day, please do get your name removed from the list for the same reason – that someone else might exercise the right on your behalf, without your knowledge. To get your name removed from a voters’ list, someone from your family needs to fill ‘form 7’ either manually or online. This needs to be done only if your name turns up in the electoral roll.
Some of us from IITM are planning to spread awareness in other residential colleges in Chennai, and maybe even some colleges outside Chennai. If you would like to help us out in any way, do send me an email at [email protected].
The right to vote is one of the most significant rights we enjoy in a democracy. Let’s not waste it!
Links to forms:
Bonafide certification form: http://www.voteindia.in/images/Forms/Student_living_in_hostel.pdf